Latest update: 11/10/2009
Opposition parties express concern over reconciliation accords
Although world leaders applauded the signature of a landmark peace deal between Turkey and Armenia, many pitfalls lie ahead of its implementation. National opposition groups may bloc its ratification by both countries' parliaments.
By NEWS WIRES (text)
AFP- Armenia is facing "great risks" after Yerevan and Ankara on Saturday signed pacts to establish diplomatic ties following decades of hostility, a leading critic of the deal said.
"With the signing of these protocols we have entered a period of great risks and big uncertainty," Stepan Safarian, a leading member of the opposition Heritage party, told AFP.
Opponents of the deal have accused the government of making concessions to Turkey, in particular by allowing for the creation of a commission to study the two country's historical grievances.
Critics say the creation of such a commission calls into question Armenians' claims to have been victims of genocide under Ottoman Turks. Ankara strongly rejects the genocide claim.
Opponents have also warned that Turkey may use the normalisation process to push Yerevan to make concessions in its longstanding conflict with Turkish ally Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region.
Up to 10,000 people took to the streets of the Armenian capital Yerevan on Friday to protest the deal and analysts say more protests are to be expected.
Safarian said last-minute disagreements that delayed the signing of the deal pointed to the dangers ahead.
"We have already had the first crisis during the normalisation of Armenian-Turkish relations and we expect similar crises ahead," he said.
He blamed Turkey for the delay, which was caused by an apparent dispute over statements the two sides were to make afterward, causing them to be scrapped. US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters that the ceremony was delayed after "a last minute hitch" with the Armenians.
"The Turkish side has broken its agreements," Safarian said, though he had no details of the dispute.
Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu signed the two protocols in a ceremony in the Swiss city of Zurich.
The deals to establish diplomatic ties and regular dialogue, as well as open the two countries' common border, still have to clear the hurdle of parliamentary ratification in each country before they can take effect.
Despite some vocal domestic opposition, Armenia's ruling coalition has backed the protocols, making their approval in parliament almost a guarantee.