By Edmond Y. Azadian
Emulating President Richard Nixon’s highly-successful ping pong diplomacy with China’s president, Serge Sargisian tried to engage Turkey in a football diplomacy, which raised some hopes at home and heaped upon him a tremendous amount of kudos from the world diplomatic community. But that diplomacy hit a snag when Turkey dug its heels in refusing to approve the Protocols before the settlement of the Karabagh issue.
Although the Protocols did not call for any such preconditions, Turkey raised the ante by embarrassing the supporters of the Protocols and continuing to keep Armenia under blockade.
Turkish leaders would like to imply that the lifting of the blockade is a favor to Armenia, whereas the blockade is in violation of international law and is a roadblock for Turkey’s path towards its aspirations to join the European Union.
Turkey is trying to wait out the complete depopulation of Armenia so as to see the latter disappear from the global map. Certainly leaders in Ankara are overjoyed to see droves of Armenian citizens abandoning their ancestral homeland, driven out by economic necessity. And the blockade is one of the contributing factors to that economic hardship.
After stalling the approval of the Protocols, Turkey was under diplomatic pressure as the ball was in its court. To move that ball somewhere else, Turkish d iplomacy has resorted to the principle of “the best defense is an offense” and has unleashed a diplomatic campaign against Armenia. One such attack took place on April 13, when both Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu used the opportunity afforded to them at the European Council’s spring session in Strasbourg. Erdogan has tried to kill more than one bird from the Strasbourg forum, by insulting a French parliamentarian who had questioned him about religious freedom in Turkey. Such a macho attack was mostly for domestic consumption, in view of the parliamentary elections in Turkey on June 12. Erdogan has learned by experience that standing up to the Europeans earns him high marks among the Turkish electorate.