Digest of Middle East Studies


Jack Kalpakian, Volkan Ipek / DIGEST OF MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES / Volume 20, / Issue 2 / Pp. 291–321 / Fall 2011

 Map: Andrew Andersen, George Partskhaladze / 2007









Using a case study approach, this study examines Turkish and Armenian attempts at constructing a more positive relationship.  It argues that the two countries need to look at what binds them in a web of mutual responsibility towards each other as states first.  The only legal link between the two countries is the Treaty of Kars which updated an earlier treaty.  Given that the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission and the Turkish-Armenian Accords were both failures, this paper argues that Armenia and Turkey need to litigate their differences on the basis of their only binding agreement.



I. Introduction


The process of reconciliation between Armenians and Turks is regarded by many as an exercise in futility.  While there are clear positive incentives for the two states and the two peoples to move forward with the project of reconciliation, it is also clear that the obstacles facing such as a project are extensive.  This paper argues that the two attempts to move the process forward failed because they were not owned by Turks and Armenians.  They were created mainly at the initiative of the United States for the sake of its own interests in Transcaucasia.  And while there is nothing particularly sinister in the United States’ pursuit of its energy and strategic interests in the region, the United States proceeded without due consideration of the depth of the problems between Turks and Armenians, and failed to lay the groundwork, in both positive and negative incentives for both sides, required to achieve the breakthrough it sought.  The foci of this paper are the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC) and the 2009 Turkish-Armenian accords.  Each of these events/agreements is treated as a case for the purposes of this study.  The paper consists of seven parts.  In the first part, we discuss the text of the Kars Treaty and the obligations it brings to both Turkey and Armenia.  In the second part we present the normative parameters of this work, including its limitations.  In the third part, we provide the framework of analysis used for this paper.  The fourth part consists of the TARC case, while the fifth part examines the accords.  The sixth section examines the lessons learned from each episode and looks at where the process fell short.  The final part provides some reflections and policy recommendations that are, in our view, more realistic than those that were made by some of the principal participants in the process.


Press here to read the whole article


About the authors


Jack Kalpakian is Associate Professor at Al Akhawayn University Ifrane Morocco · International Affairs

Expertise:     International Security, International Political Economy, Middle East and Africa

Education:    B.S., Political Science, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA; M.A. and Ph.D., International Studies, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.

Background: Originally an Armenian immigrant from Sudan, Kalpakian is a native speaker of Arabic and WesternArmenian, as well as a naturalized United States citizen



Volkan Ipek is Researcher at AFSAD, Bilkent University

Expertise:     International Security, International Political Economy

Education:    AFSAD, Bilkent University