Mustafa Aydin:

1915 events shouldn't hamper Armenia-Turkish public dialog

PanARMENIAN.Net - Frozen in 1993, the Armenian-Turkish relations have not been normalized yet. Turkey goes on setting a number of preconditions unacceptable for Armenia, which has always manifested willingness to establish diplomatic relations without any preconditions. Head of the department of international relations at University of Economic and Technology, professor Mustafa Aydin comments to PanARMENIAN.Net on possibilities to break the deadlock.
What does the Turkish regional policy base on?

Turkey's policy toward the South Caucasus states bases on two principles: territorial integrity and neighborly relations with all states of the region. The Turkish government is willing to enjoy neighborly relations not only with Georgia and Azerbaijan but also with Armenia," head of the department of international relations at University of Economic and Technology. The February 19 presidential election in Armenia inspires hope for gradual normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry eyes the Armenian diplomacy as 'very soviet', old-fashioned and clumsy. Our diplomacy, on the contrary, is west-oriented and supposes joint efforts for normalization of relations. Reconstruction of Holy Church in Akhtamar is a serious step on the part of the Turkish government. It's Armenia's turn now.

One of such steps could be softening of position on Nagorno Karabakh. Ankara understands that much should be done for resolution of the conflict but initially Armenia could withdraw troops from 7 Azerbaijani regions. In this case, Turkey could open the border, which was closed in 1993. Actually, Turkey's MFA is ready to establish relations with Armenia but pressure is too strong. Anyway, I think that normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations is not far away.

Is normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations possible in the foreseeable future?

The problems Turkey experienced with Greece over Cyprus were much more serious than those with Armenia, head of the department of international relations at University of Economic and Technology.

Relations between Turkey and Greece have improved thanks to the publics of both states, according to him. I witness how the Greek and Turkish communities of Cyprus are establishing a dialog and I am hopeful that a united Greek-Turkish Cyprus will appear one day. The number of Armenians willing normalization of relations with Turkey has increased recently.

Of course, problems still exist. One of them is Armenia's recognition of present-day Turkey's borders, according to the Treaty of Kars. The second is the tragedy of 1915 which is viewed by many Turks as history having nothing in common with the modern Turkish State. The 1915 events shouldn't hamper the Armenia-Turkey public dialog.

Turkey's Prosecutor General brought an action against the ruling AK Party. Do you think the Constitutional Court can ban the AKP?

As you know the suit followed the parliamentary decision allowing to wear hijab at universities. Hearings are expected in early June. The AKP is accused of violating the secular ideology of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish State. The possibility of banning the party is rather high. In this case, Ergodan and Gul will be expelled from politics. There is also another possible scenario. The AKP may change its name, as it happened with Refah party in 1980-ies. If done so, Turkey will face new parliamentary elections. Anyway, it's premature to make forecasts.

The Turkish parliament introduced amendments in the notorious article 301. To what extent do these amendments meet Turkey's line of European integration?

The amendments made to article 301 are insignificant, according to European and Turkish experts. But we should not forget that laws are not changed and, moreover, repealed immediately. It's a long process. As to Turkey's EU bid, I wouldn't say the Turkish population dreams about it. In November 2007, only 42 per cent of Turks supported the idea, against 75 per cent in December 2005. The figure keeps lowering. There are also other reasons why Turkey is not longing for the EU. Our country is a NATO member state. We enjoy wonderful relations with the United States, Israel and Russia. Turkey has the chance to become a regional power.
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