Back Key dates in Armenia-Turkey relations 2008-2010 - Next 
Independence Day celebrations in Yerevan in 2006
"Football diplomacy". Armenia-Turkey World Cup Qualifier 2008 in Yerevan.
Photo: Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008

21 February 2008

President Abdullah Gul congratulates Serzh Sargsyan on winning the presidential election:

"I hope your new position will offer an opportunity for the normalisation of relations between the Turkish and Armenian people."

5 July 2008

Sargsyan invites the Turkish president to visit Armenia on 6 September to watch the World Cup qualifying match between Armenia and Turkey.

18 July 2008

Ali Babacan, then Turkish Foreign Minister, confirmed that Turkey and Armenia have held a series of secret meetings in Bern in May and July. (Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry Ertugrul Apakan and his deputy Unal Cevikoz headed the Turkish delegation; Arman Kirakossian, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister of Armenia headed the Armenian side). Babacan and Sargsyan downplay the significance of the talks, however, the Armenian Prime Minister said: "There was no secret or reason to be surprised. Such contact between Armenian and Turkish diplomats never stopped. They have always taken place."

30 August 2008

President Gul accepts Sargsyan's invitation to watch the football World Cup qualification match in Yerevan.

Serzh Sarkisian
Serzh Sarkisian

7 September 2008

The Turkish and Armenian delegations, headed by the two Foreign Ministers, hold talks regarding Turkey's proposal for a new regional forum in the Caucasus, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and other regional issues. Babacan tells Edward Nalbandian that Turkey supports the Minsk process for the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and adds that his country favours the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries in the region.

12 December 2008

The Turkish Parliament urges the parliaments of third party countries not to disrupt the process of rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia with efforts to recognize the events of 1915 as genocide. "Politicians and parliaments cannot judge history," says Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan

15 December 2008

A group of Turkish intellectuals and academics issue a public apology for the killing of Armenians during the First World War. The text, which has been signed by around 30,000 people, reads:

"My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my share, I empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers. I apologize to them."

Shortly after the intellectuals' campaign is announced, a group of 146 retired Turkish ambassadors issues a counter-declaration. "Today, Armenian terror has completed its mission," it laments. "We are aware that the second phase of the plan includes an apology and the next step will be demands for land and compensation."

16 January 2009

"We have never come this close to a plan regarding the final normalisation of relations with Armenia," says Babacan.

22 January 2009

"We are very close to normalising Armenian-Turkish relations," says Nalbandian. "We can take the next step and resolve the issue if Turkey, like Armenia, approaches it without preconditions and opens the border. […] After the border opens, we are ready to form a commission in which we can discuss issues relevant to both countries."

22 April 2009

After intense diplomatic manoeuvring (with the United States playing a leading mediating role), Ankara and Yerevan release a joint statement – at midnight – stating that a road map and "a comprehensive framework for the normalisation of their bilateral relations" have been agreed upon.

13 May 2009

The border with Armenia will remain closed until Armenian occupation of Azeri territories comes to an end, says Prime Minister Erdogan during a visit to Baku.

"There is a cause and effect relation here. Occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh is the cause here and closing of the border is the effect. It is impossible for us to open the border unless that occupation ends."

31 August 2009

The Protocols on Establishment of Diplomatic Relations and on Development of Relations between Armenia and Turkey are released by the Armenian and Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministries. The protocols envisage the establishment of diplomatic relations and the founding of an intergovernmental commission to address all issues between the two countries, including a sub-commission on history.

The protocols spark harsh criticism from the Armenian diaspora, the Armenian opposition, Azerbaijan and nationalist circles in Turkey.

10 October 2009

The protocols are signed by Edward Nalbandian and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in the main hall of the University of Zurich. Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Micheline Calmy-Rey, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, EU High Representative Javier Solana and Slovenian Foreign Minister Samuel Žbogar attend the signing ceremony.

14 October 2009

Serzh Sargsyan makes a reciprocal visit to Turkey to watch the World Cup football qualifying match between Armenia and Turkey in Bursa alongside Abdullah Gul. The two presidents meet before the match.

21 October 2009

The protocols are submitted to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Turkish Parliament.

24 November 2009

The Speakers of the Armenian and Turkish Parliaments meet in Moscow on the sidelines of the Parliamentary Assembly of Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC).

12 January 2010

The Armenian Constitutional Court decides on the compatibility of the Protocols with the Armenian Constitution. In the decision's preamble the Court states that the protocols cannot be interpreted in a way that would contradict Clause 11 of the Declaration of Independence, which states that Armenia "stands in support of the task of achieving international recognition of the 1915 Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia."

18 January 2010

In a statement commenting on the Armenian Constitutional Court decision, the Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry declares:

"It has been observed that this decision contains preconditions and restrictive provisions which impair the letter and spirit of the Protocols. The said decision undermines the very reason for negotiating these Protocols as well as their fundamental objective. This approach cannot be accepted on our part."

9 February 2010

The Armenian President sends a message to the Turkish President encouraging him to stay committed to the protocols and move forward with the normalisation process. A day later the Turkish President answers positively.

7 April 2010

In Yerevan, Edward Nalbandian meets a Turkish delegation headed by Prime Minister Erdogan's Special Envoy Feridun Sinirlioglu and the Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary. Later the same day, Sinirlioglu meets Serzh Sargsyan, to whom he conveys written messages from Erdogan, Gul and Davutoglu.

12 April 2010

Erdogan and Sargsyan meet in Washington D.C. on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama. According to media reports "the two leaders agreed to carry on the rapprochement process through regular meetings between their foreign ministers." The following day Nalbandian and Davutoglu meet for a working lunch hosted by Hillary Clinton. Their conversation focuses on the previous day's discussions between Sargsyan and Erdogan.

22 April 2010

Armenia suspends the ratification procedure of the protocols with Turkey. The Armenian president states:

"For a whole year, Turkey's senior officials have not spared public statements in the language of preconditions. For a whole year, Turkey has done everything to protract time and fail the process. Hence, our conclusion and position are straightforward:

1. Turkey is not ready to continue the process that was started and to move forward without preconditions in line with the letter of the Protocols.
2. The reasonable timeframes have, in our opinion, elapsed. The Turkish practice of passing the 24th of April at any cost is simply unacceptable.
3. We consider unacceptable the pointless efforts of making the dialogue between Armenia and Turkey an end in itself; from this moment on, we consider the current phase of normalisation exhausted.

[…] During this period, I have discussed and continue discussing the future of the process launched with Turkey with Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Barack Obama of the United States, Dmitri Medvedev of Russia, as well as our colleagues in a number of European organisations. We are grateful to them for supporting our initiative, encouraging the process, and exerting efforts to secure progress. The matter of the fact is that our partners have urged us to continue the process, rather than to discontinue it.

Out of respect for them, their efforts, and their sincere aspirations, we have decided after consulting our Coalition partners and the National Security Council not to exit the process for the time being, but rather, to suspend the procedure of ratifying the Protocols. We believe this to be in the best interests of our nation."[1]

Foreign leaders (US, France, Switzerland, EU, etc.) welcome the decision not to fully withdraw from the process.

Turkey states that it remains committed to the process.

24 April 2010

On Armenian Remembrance Day Barack Obama stated:

"On this solemn day of remembrance, we pause to recall that ninety-five years ago one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century began. In that dark moment of history, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their death in the final days of the Ottoman Empire.

Today is a day to reflect upon and draw lessons from these terrible events. I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed.  It is in all of our interest to see the achievement a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts. The Meds Yeghern is a devastating chapter in the history of the Armenian people, and we must keep its memory alive in honour of those who were murdered and so that we do not repeat the grave mistakes of the past. I salute the Turks who saved Armenians in 1915 and am encouraged by the dialogue among Turks and Armenians, and within Turkey itself, regarding this painful history. Together, the Turkish and Armenian people will be stronger as they acknowledge their common history and recognize their common humanity."[2]

The US President does not use the term genocide.

24 April 2010

In Istanbul, several hundred intellectuals organised for the first time in Turkey a commemoration for the victims of the Armenian genocide.

26-29 July 2010

Carnegie Endowment hosted an off-the-record dialogue meeting between Armenian and Turkish experts and political figures in Italy  (Bellagio) to discuss what could be done to further Track II efforts and sustain the diplomatic process. The meeting was supported by the Tavitian Foundation, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Rockefeller Center. Although it was a one-off meeting, there is a possibility that in 2011 a second meeting be organized.

This event was largely put together by Thomas de Waal who is a senior associate at the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment, specializing in the South Caucasus region. He is author of Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War (NYU Press, 2003), which has been translated into Armenian, Azeri, and Russian. His latest book is The Caucasus: An Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2010). At the Carnegie Endowment, de Waal has worked intensely on Armenia-Turkey relations and recently published a Carnegie Policy Brief, Armenia and Turkey: Bridging the Gap (April 2010, updated in October 2010).

He also co-authored (with Henri Barkey), an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times entitled “The Truce in Need of a Rescue” published on 5 February 2010.

11-17 September 2010

NATO held its annual disaster response exercise in near Yerevan. More than 600 participants from 30 NATO and Partner countries participated, as did 40 observers. The “Armenia 2010” exercise was the first such exercise to be held in the Caucasus.

In July 2010, it was reported that Ankara was considering temporarily opening the border with Armenia for passage of equipment to be used in a NATO military exercise in Armenia. However, the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs denied these reports.

19 September 2010

A historic religious service – the first in 95 years - took place at the Armenian Church of the Holy Cross on the island of Akhtamar in Van. The event was debated widely in Turkish and Armenian press.

21 September

Turkish President Abdullah Gul sent a congratulatory message to President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia on the occasion of the Independence Day of the Republic of Armenia. In his statement Gul is said to have expressed hope that the protocols serve as a basis for the normalization of the relations between the two countries, and underlined the importance of  establishing good neighborly ties.

25 September

Edward Nalbandian, at the General Debate of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly said:

“Last year, after intensive negotiations, we achieved agreements and finally signed the Armenian-Turkish protocols. We made a confident investment in a durable rapprochement, while Turkey, unfortunately, backtracked from its commitments and not only refrained from the ratification of the signed protocols, but returned to its initial language of preconditions. One needs to prove his good intentions in deeds and not just in words…Armenia is ready to move forward when Turkey will be once again prepared to normalise relations without any preconditions.''

1 October

A crowd of Turkish nationalists held Friday prayers at the ruins of an ancient Armenian cathedral in Ani, in the eastern province of Kars. Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, traveled to Ani in a convoy of supporters carrying Turkish flags and chanting “Allahuekber” (God is great). The MHP said it was following the example of the Selçuk ruler Alp Arslan, who removed the cathedral's cross and prayed there following his capture of Ani in 1064. This move was seen as a response to not only the service held at Surp Khach church (see entry above) but also the first service after 88 years - held at the Sumela Monastery in Trabzon, Turkey - in August 2010.

7 October

In an interview with “Limes” an Italian bimonthly review of geoplitics, President Abdullah Gul said:

"I myself took the first steps in the direction of starting the initiative with Armenia. The Armenian question is one that will be solved. Now, maybe, it is the moment for a silent diplomacy."

12 October

Evaluating the status of the Armenian-Turkish protocols signed one year ago on 10 October 2009 in Zurich, the Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian published an article in the Wall Street Journal, in which he wrote:

“Unfortunately Turkey has backtracked from the agreements. Not only has it refrained from ratifying the protocols, but Ankara has returned to the language of preconditions that it had used before the beginning of the process. It seems we speak in different languages. Turkey has attempted to link the Armenian-Turkish normalization process to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Any Turkish attempts to interfere in the Karabakh process or to link the normalization of its relations with Armenia upon its own perception of progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh talks, harms both processes.  The negotiations between Armenia and Turkey were finalized by the signature of the protocols. There is neither "silent diplomacy, nor "a second season" of Zurich, nor any new round of negotiations, according to the information often spread by the Turkish media these days. The only remaining step in this long lasting process is the ratification and implementation of the Armenian-Turkish protocols without further ado.”

28 October

On the occasion of Republic Day, the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan sent a congratulatory message to the President of the Republic of Turkey Abdullah Gul. The message states:

“Your Excellency, I send my sincere congratulation on the occasion of Turkey’s National Holiday – Republic Day. Taking this opportunity, I wish you well-being and progress to the people of neighboring Turkey. Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

11 November

The Armenian Foreign Minister visited the Indian Council of World Affairs where he delivered a speech. Adressing President Gul’s comments on “silent diplomacy,” Nalbandian said:

 “Some of the Turkish politicians and some Turkish media outlets like to mention about it, but I do not know with whom a “silent diplomacy” is conducted. The Roman philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius’s writing, the famous Meditations was entitled "Thoughts addressed to himself”. Philosophers or some emperors probably address thoughts to themselves, but diplomats address their thoughts to other diplomats if they are looking for diplomatic solutions. The only remaining step in this long lasting process is the ratification and implementation of the Armenian-Turkish protocols without further ado. Armenia will be ready to move forward if Turkey is again ready to go ahead with the normalization process without preconditions.”

22 November

An inspection team of the Armenian Ministry of Defense left for Turkey to conduct an inspection under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE).

2 December

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit was held in Astana. Hopes of tangible progress towards a resolution of the Karabagh conflict were once again dashed. Gül told journalists that he had briefly talked to Sargsyan during the summit.

 


[1] Televised Address of President Serzh Sargsyan on the Process of Normalisation of Relations between Armenia and Turkey, April 22 2010

[2] Statement by Barack Obama on Armenian Remembrance Day on 24 April 2010

August 2010

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