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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Armenia - Erdogan's U.S. Visit a Setback

VZCZCXRO6708
RR RUEHDA
DE RUEHYE #0864/01 3481417
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141417Z DEC 09 ZDK CTG RUEHIT #3862
FM AMEMBASSY YEREVAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9854
INFO RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI 2428
RUEHKB/AMEMBASSY BAKU 1237
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1655
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 1868
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 0835
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 0030

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 YEREVAN 000864

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT for EUR/PPD-LPEREZ
DEPT for EUR/CACEN-JFARRELLY
DEPT for RASTEVENS-KLITZ

E.O. 12958; N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO PGOV PREL TU AZ AM
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: ARMENIA - ERDOGAN'S U.S. VISIT A SETBACK
FOR RAPPROCHEMENT

YEREVAN 00000864 001.2 OF 002


Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

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SUMMARY
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1. (SBU) The Armenian press, pro-government and opposition alike,
expressed alarm at statements made by Turkey's Prime Minister
Erdogan, regarding rapprochement with Armenia, during his visit to
the U.S. His comments linking ratification of the protocols on
normalizing Turkey-Armenia relations to progress in the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict led many to question Turkey's sincerity
regarding ratification of the documents. There was also concern and
skepticism regarding Erdogan's assertions that he could do nothing
to convince the Turkish parliament to ratify the protocols absent
progress in N-K. Some outlets took advantage of Erdogan's remarks
to criticize the GOAM's diplomacy. Others criticized President
Obama for failing to push back publically on Erdogan's linkage of
the two processes. Television stations initially reported on the
visit and showed politicians reacting to Erdogan's remarks, but then
ceased their coverage. A credible source said they had been ordered
to stop television reporting on the visit, perhaps because of the
negative impact it was having on public opinion. Given the tiny
circulation of Armenia's newspapers and the light TV coverage, the
extent of the negative impact on public is hard to gauge. End
summary.

--------------------------------------------- -------
DOUBTS ABOUT TURKEY'S SINCERITY, ARMENIA'S DIPLOMACY
--------------------------------------------- -------

2. (U) Pro-government HAYOTS ASHKHAR writes that neither the United
States nor Azerbaijan expected to see such a tough position by
Erdogan during his visit to Washington. By subjecting
Armenian-Turkish negotiations to progress in Nagorno-Karabakh, the
author believes Turkey is trying to set a trap for Armenia and make
it look bad in the eyes of the international community. In another
article, the paper discounts Erdogan's claim that he has no leverage
over the Turkish parliament to approve the protocols. The author
wonders whether the Armenian parliament might not come up with
conditions of its own, mentioning genocide recognition among other
possibilities. The article concludes that Turkey has no intention
of normalizing relations with Armenia, since the Turkish side
understands very well that Armenia will never agree to the "Erdogan"
concept of rapprochement.

3. (U) Golos Armenii, a pro-government Russian-language paper,
asserts that Turks "only understand the language of threats,
blackmail and ultimatums." Editor of opposition HAYKAKAN ZHAMANAK
Nikol Pashinian, in a piece critical of Armenian diplomacy, opines
that now, after the visit, the N-K issue will be central to the
process of Armenian-Turkish rapprochement. Opposition 168 ZHAM
writes sarcastically that, due to the "bright achievements" of
Armenian diplomacy, the government has no clue what was discussed
behind closed doors between President Obama and Erdogan. Editor of
Centrist ARAVOT Aram Abrahamian believes that, henceforth, Turkey
will be able to "insert" the N-K conflict in any conversation on
Armenia-Turkey rapprochement.

-----------------------------
DOUBTS ABOUT THE U.S. AS WELL
-----------------------------

4. (U) Many in the press wondered about a perceived failure of the
U.S. to push back when Erdogan made the linkage between
normalization of ties with Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict. HAYOTS ASHKHAR expressed surprise that President Obama,
"who recently announced that there should be no preconditions for an
Armenia-Turkey rapprochement," failed to respond to Erdogan's
statements. ARAVOT's Editor Aram Abrahamian writes that the United
States would never endanger its relations with Turkey for the sake
of Armenia. AZG and HAYASTANI HANRAPETUTIUN quote an opposition
Heritage Party MP saying that the lack of a response from President
Obama is a bad sign. President Sargsian publically stated that he
appreciated the U.S. role in Turkish-Armenian normalization and any
blame lies with the parties themselves.

--------------------------------
GAG ORDER ON BROADCAST COVERAGE?
--------------------------------


YEREVAN 00000864 002.2 OF 002


5. (SBU) Initially, there was widespread TV coverage of Erdogan's
visit to the U.S. There was little commentary, but Armenian
politicians were shown reacting to his remarks. Then, while he was
still in the U.S., the coverage stopped. We received a report from
a well-placed broadcast journalist that Presidential Spokesman
Samvel Farmanian had given instructions to the stations to halt all
coverage.

-------
COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU) Coverage of Erdogan's visit to the U.S. has probably
served to increase suspicions of Turkey's intentions among the
Armenian political class and lowered the public's receptivity to
normalization of relations with Turkey. It put the government on
the defensive, forcing Foreign Minister Nalbandian to deny before
parliament that there were any pre-conditions or linkages to
Nagorno-Karabakh in negotiating the protocols with Turkey. Given
the lack of TV coverage after the first day, and the tiny
circulation of Armenia's printed press, it is hard to assess the
impact of the negative coverage and comments.

Yovanovitch

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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