Pope: Against Turkey, Beside Armenia – ANALYSIS
As a matter of fact, the statement is the Catholic Church’s interference in Turkish-Armenian relations. Despite the Pope represents a religious authority, and the Catholic Church has a serious power worldwide, the closure of the Turkish-Armenian borders is a secular problem. From a logical point of view, the Vatican leader’s one-sided interference in this process is inadmissible and absurd (despite the history of Vatican is full of thousands of such absurd facts about the Pope playing a political role). So is the magnificent welcoming ceremony for the leader of a state and a church that have recognized the so-called Armenian “genocide”…
The question is not about the Pope calling for the solution to a secular problem; it’s about the call being biased. Turkey closed the border with Armenia not only because of the invasion of Azerbaijani lands, but also because of the claims about the so-called Armenian “genocide”. Such a statement by the Pope runs quite contrary to the position of Turkey, because the head of the Catholic Church in fact supports the “reality” of the Turks committing genocide against the Armenians back in 1915 and by demanding the opening of the border clearly shows he does not accept Turkey’s position.
Another biased approach is related with the church’s attitude toward the events of 1915. As a country recognizing "genocide", Vatican drew a thick line on the principle “not politicians, but historians must assess these events” and supported Armenia in this issue. The statement by Pope Francis doesn't reflect sincere notes. His attitude would then be considered sincere as he took the same attitude toward Khojaly genocide, Srebrenica genocide. At the same time, Pope's words can be perceived sincere if he discloses main reasons for the closure of borders, before calling on to open the Turkish-Armenian border.
Is Pope's request to open the border with Armenia a means of putting pressure on Turkey? In fact, it is not, because Pope Francis is the representative of Argentina where the Armenian lobby has the most powerful position and head of the Vatican – that recognized so-called "Armenian genocide". Therefore, it would be more interesting if Pope didn’t touch on the issue of borders with Armenia. His statement “open the Turkish-Armenian borders" was expected, but the interesting part of the process is Ankara's attitude regarding this statement.
This attitude will reveal the true position of Turkey on issue of opening the border with Armenia. Ankara can react to this statement in three ways:
a) Tough stance – Turkey can officially re-announce the reasons for the closure of the border with Armenia and conditions for its opening, accuse Vatican of taking a biased position in this process.
b) Soft position – Turkey can announce that it is ready for the opening of border with Armenia, it has taken necessary steps in this regard, but they failed and hint at possible activities to be carried out for normalization of the relations with Armenia.
c) Indirect position – Ankara does not react to the Pope's statement. Instead, it can form public opinion like “There is serious pressure on Turkey” and by taking advantage of media try to justify the necessity of easing relations with Armenia on the eve of the 100-year anniversary of the so-called “Armenian Genocide”.
The demonstration of a tough stance is possible in the case that Turkey takes into account not only its own interests, but also the interests of Azerbaijan, its strategic ally. However, Turkey’s policy toward Armenia shows that a tough stance will not be taken regarding Pope's statement.
Soft position must mean for the Catholic Church, Armenia, Azerbaijan and domestic public opinion. If Ankara takes this position it will have the opportunity to maneuver between all parties (to please all).
The demonstration of an indirect position will show that Ankara is ready for major changes in the policy toward Armenia. From this perspective, after the Pope's statement, it is necessary to follow and monitor the position of media.
Vugar Masimoghlu, APA Analytical Center
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