When they were signed in late 2009, the protocols between Turkey and Armenia -- designed to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries and create a vehicle for discussing their painful shared history -- were hailed as a major breakthrough and as an important victory for Ankara's new "zero problems with neighbors" policy.
Still, despite the applause, it was fairly clear already at the signing -- which was delayed by three hours because of a dispute between Ankara and Yerevan over their respective statements -- that the protocols had a rough road ahead of them. Indeed, not much longer after they were signed, the agreement was as good as dead, killed off by a combination of Turkish buyer's remorse, Azeri bullying and Armenian naiveté.
Just how did things fall apart so quickly? In a new report issued by Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights, David Phillips, who has been involved in previous Turkish-Armenian reconciliation efforts, goes a long way towards answering that question by providing an extremely detailed diplomatic history of the protocols.
As Phillips writes, "The Protocols represented an unprecedented advancement in relations between Turkey and Armenia. However, failure to ratify them was a significant bilateral, regional, and international setback." As he sees it, the protocols are dead in their current form and cannot be revived, while Ankara, busy with other, more pressing regional concerns, is not likely to return to the Armenia file for now.
Phillips's report, filled with candid observations from many of the diplomats involved in getting the protocols ratified, makes for fascinating and highly-instructive reading.