Armenia's stormy debate over reconciliation with Turkey has died down in the last two weeks as Armenian politicians circle their wagons, size up their opponents and wait for the Turkish parliament's own decision on ratification of the October 10 protocols to reestablish diplomatic ties between the two states.
Armenia has not yet taken the first step for ratifying the documents - a review by the country's Constitutional Court to ensure compliance with constitutional law. A Constitutional Court spokesperson told the PanArmenian.net news service on November 9 that President Serzh Sargsyan has not yet submitted the protocols to the court for review. No reason was given for the delay.
One political scientist cautions that observers should not expect rapid, daily progress on reconciliation with Turkey. "This [current] temporary silence anticipates an intensive [development of] events," Alexander Iskandarian, director of Yerevan's Caucasus Institute, commented to reporters on November 11.
One opposition member who supports reconciliation with Turkey believes that the prevailing political calm on the issue is linked to parties attempting to consolidate their positions on the documents.
"I don't think we have silence now," commented Suren Surenyants, a senior member of the Republic Party. "At this stage, each party is trying to reinforce its position before the next stormy cycle, each country is trying to demonstrate its superiority. This is a process that will intensify soon."
Part of that process includes watching Turkey's own decision on ratification. As in Armenia, Turkish opposition parties have expressed strong misgivings about the reconciliation deal.
"Now everybody in Armenia is waiting for the decision of the Turkish parliament," said Tatul Hakobian, an analyst at the Civilitas Foundation. "This already shows that Armenia has almost no [unilateral] influence on the [future development of] Armenian-Turkish relations. It is waiting for Turkey's steps."
One party, however, is more closely scrutinizing the Armenian government's own steps. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun, which quit Armenia's government coalition in April over the decision to reconcile with Turkey, has called for a "very nice, normal and smooth" change of government if the Armenian parliament ratifies the protocols. [For details, see the Eurasia Insight archive.]
"We will continue our fight till the end, employing all methods," said Artashes Shahbazian, secretary of the party's parliamentary faction. Party members, known as Dashnaks, have launched protest rallies, sit-down strikes and hunger strikes to campaign against the protocols - activities that some rival parties mock, given the Armenian Revolutionary Federation's recent government alliance.
The government says that it is politically ready for any such Dashnak "activity."
"We respect the positions of other political players, but we clearly have our own position," said ruling Republican Party of Armenia spokesperson and parliamentarian Eduard Sharmazanov. "We are not police officers to get ready [for trouble.] We are powerful in the political sense, and President Serzh Sargsyan enjoys strong support from his party and the coalition."
The government holds steady to its support for reconciliation with Turkey without so-called "pre-conditions" - a shorthand for concessions on the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh and recognition of Ottoman Turkey's 1915 slaughter of ethnic Armenians as genocide. [For details, see the Eurasia Insight archive.]
But one influential opposition leader argues that Sargsyan has, in fact, compromised with Ankara.
The creation of a commission of historians to research materials related to the 1915 massacre - a provision of the protocols -- is "an unpardonable mistake that can hardly ever be rectified," asserted ex-President Levon Ter Petrosian, leader of the Armenian National Congress, at a November 11 Congress meeting on the protocols.
Like other critics, Ter Petrosian believes that the commission's creation places a question mark over whether or not the massacre was actually genocide. Similar feelings have been expressed related to the protocol stipulation to recognize Turkey's borders - many Armenians believe that means the permanent loss of territory to Turkey held by Armenia in the Middle Ages.
Ter Petrosian forecast that the Turkish parliament will delay ratifying the protocols or ratify the agreements with reservations to step up an international resolution of Armenia's conflict over Nagorno Karabakh with Turkish ally Azerbaijan. Turkish parliamentarians began debating the agreement on October 21.
Turkish officials have repeatedly stated that Ankara will not reestablish diplomatic ties with Armenia without significant progress toward a resolution of the 21-year Karabakh dispute.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul on November 5 called for an intensification of talks about Armenia's withdrawal from formerly Azerbaijani-controlled territories surrounding Karabakh, news agencies reported.
Editor's Note: Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan.