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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 2,797 2,367 2,100 139
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 US $ 950 790 570 143
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Armenia

Update No: 335 - (25/2/10)

The impasse with Turkey?
The protocols on normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia were heralded as an historic breakthrough when they were announced last April, but the deal is now on the brink of collapse unless the parliaments of Turkey and Armenia ratify the agreement. A breakdown would spike tensions between Turkey and Armenia. It would also set back mediation to resolve the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan where ethnic Azeris and Armenians fought a bloody war in 1992-94.

Negotiators finalized the protocols in February and initialled their annexes on April 2, 2009. In a procedural breakthrough, the implementation roadmap de-linked normalization between Turkey and Armenia to negotiations on Nagorno-Karabakh.

But the Azeris object
In response, Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan suffered withering criticism from Turkey’s large Azeri minority. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev also threatened to boycott the Nabucco pipeline, which is designed to carry natural gas from Central Asia via Turkey to markets in Europe. Within a month, Erdogan was in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, assuring his “Azeri brothers’’ that Turkey “could open its border only if Armenia lifts its occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh.’’

It took months, but a signing ceremony was finally scheduled for Oct. 10. Turkish officials wavered at the last minute. Only Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s crisis management prevented an embarrassing fiasco.

The Armenians object
The latest flap resulted from a finding by Armenia’s Constitutional Court on Jan. 12. Clearing the way for ratification, the Court affirmed that that the protocols conform to Article 11 of the Armenian declaration of independence which states, “The Republic of Armenia stands in support of the task of achieving international recognition of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Western Armenia.’’

Then the Turks object
Turkish officials vehemently objected. They claimed that the Court’s finding contained “preconditions and restrictive findings’’ that undermine the “fundamental objectives’’ of the protocols. Citing a sub-annex to the agreement calling for the establishment of a commission for dialogue on historical issues, it is actually Turkey that is trying to impose a pre-condition by insisting that the commission consider whether the Armenian genocide actually occurred. Both U.S. and Russian diplomats insist that the deal was made without preconditions.
This moment of opportunity must not be lost. The ball is in Turkey’s court. Armenia’s President Serge Sarkisian announced yesterday that he would formally submit the protocols to the Armenian parliament for ratification despite Turkey’s efforts to stonewall and distort the deal.
Pushing for ratification won’t be easy for Erdogan, who wants to avoid controversy in the run-up to elections. Even if Erdogan decides to use his political capital, it might not be enough. In the past year, Erdogan’s approval rating has slipped from 47 percent to 32 percent.

But what about the U.S.?
There should be no connection between opening the border and US recognition of the genocide, but as a practical matter there is. If the US Congress adopts the Armenian Genocide Recognition Act, which comes up every year on April 24, Turkey would feel justified to abandon the protocols. Erdogan might even derive some short-term political benefit. Righteous indignation would appeal to the nationalist streak in Turkey’s electorate.
Turkey and Armenia are on the verge of missing an unprecedented opportunity for rapprochement. This would be a blow to both countries. For Turkey, adopting the protocols affirms its “no conflict with neighbours’ policy and boosts its flagging EU candidacy. Opening the border for normal travel and trade would end Armenia’s isolation and be a windfall on both sides of the border.

The Obama administration must do its utmost to avoid a diplomatic debacle, which would also set back US interests. Not only would a breakdown tarnish America’s prestige, but ensuing events could potentially disrupt US-Turkish relations at a time when the United States needs Turkey to help stabilize Iraq, support NATO in Afghanistan, and back diplomatic efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear programme.

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