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EU 'Pleased' By Armenia's Caution On Turkey Protocols

YEREVAN -- The European Union today welcomed Armenia's decision not to abandon its agreements on repairing relations with Turkey while expressing concern about "the loss of momentum" in the process," RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Catherine Ashton, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, made her comments through a spokesperson in Brussels who pledged the EU's support for the "unconditional and speedy ratification" of the Turkish-Armenian protocols signed by Ankara and Yerevan in October.

In Armenia, Deputy Foreign Minister Arman Kirakosian told RFE/RL that he supports President Serzh Sarkisian's decision to freeze the ratification process in parliament but not to walk away from the protocols. Sarkisian decided to stick with the rapprochement policy despite Ankara's refusal at this juncture to ratify them unconditionally.

"Let us not forget that we, too, have an option to withdraw our signatures [from the agreement]," Kirakosian said. "That is a variant. Depending on further developments in the process, we may use that variant."

He added that such a scenario will be "definitely possible" if the normalization process remains deadlocked. But he could not say just how long Yerevan is willing to wait.

Meanwhile, former Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian sharply criticized Sarkisian's decision to freeze the ratification process. He said in a statement on April 26 that Sarkisian's decision to halt the process was the worst possible response to what he described as "Turkish delay" tactics.

Oskanian said the effective collapse of the normalization process vindicates Armenian critics of Sarkisian's Western-backed policy of rapprochement with Turkey.

Oskanian, who was foreign minister from 1998-2008 under President Robert Kocharian, has been a critic of the Turkish-Armenian protocols. He has repeatedly said Ankara has no intention of unconditionally normalizing ties with Yerevan.