Nobel Peace Prize-Worthy
Who got these two longtime enemies together?
Armenia and Turkey signed a landmark agreement Saturday to establish diplomatic ties, after a dramatic last-minute intervention by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to keep the event from falling apart.
The accord, aimed at ending a century of hostility stemming from Ottoman Era massacres, was brokered by the Swiss over the past two years, with the help of French, Russian and U.S. officials. Clinton had been in frequent contact with the two sides in recent months to help seal the deal.
But just as she arrived at the University of Zurich for the signing at about 5 p.m. Saturday, Clinton heard that the Armenian side was objecting to a Turkish statement prepared for the ceremony, officials said. Clinton's motorcade made a U-turn and raced back to the hotel, where a U.S. diplomat was talking to the Armenians.
In the hotel parking lot, Clinton sat in her black BMW sedan in a soft rain for about an hour, talking on one phone to the Armenian foreign minister and on another to the Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu. Finally, she went into the hotel to invite the Armenian foreign minister, Edward Nalbandian, to drive with her to the university, where his Turkish counterpart was waiting.
Once there, further hours of negotiating ensued with a broader group of international diplomats, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, before the documents were signed. In an apparent compromise, neither the Turks nor the Armenians made a statement at the ceremony.
Could we see two in a row for the Obama Administration? (Probably not, the principals themselves are probably more deserving; this excerpt is written in an American paper for an American audience.)
Actually, some Armenians and their representatives in Washington are upset that the accord puts off the question of whether Turkey committed genocide against the Armenian people to a "committee of historical experts" for study. They want an immediate acknowledgement based on the known facts. Armenians throughout the world are not entirely pleased with the document. But the Armenian people will likely by helped innumerably by the opening of borders and normalization of relations with their most powerful neighbor.
Let's hope we see more agreements like this soon.