ArmeniaNow reporter

Armenian experts describe Turkey’s upcoming elections as the tensest in the last few years, with “unprecedented pressure on the military.”

Meanwhile, Turkish experts speak of possible strategic changes in the now stalled Armenian-Turkish normalization process.

On June 12 Turks will elect their parliament choosing among 15 political parties.

According to experts of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, only three or four of them have real chances to overcome the 10-percent election hurdle to get seats in the 550-seat Grand National Assembly of Turkey.

Still, neither Turkish, nor Armenian experts expect the upcoming elections to result in dramatic changes in the legislature.

They are more inclined to think that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party will again be the majority and its main opponent, Kemalist Republican-People’s Party (CHP), with its somewhat ‘renovated’ membership, will get more than 25 percent of the vote.

But unlike the previous election campaigns the current one has been full of various scandals — from an assassination attempt against Erdogan and hostile receptions the prime minister got in different provinces to sexual scandals.

Senior research worker at the Turkey Department of the Institute of Oriental Studies in Yerevan Anush Hovhannisyan concludes from the manifestos of all political parties participating in the Turkish elections that emphases in the country have changed, but criticism of Armenia has not decreased.

“In general very little mention is made of Armenia in presenting foreign-policy matters, and if they do remember Armenia, it is only done in the context of the Karabakh conflict. For instance, the nationalist People’s Movement Party (MHP) wrote in its election program that if their party comes to power, they will get Nagorno-Karabakh back to Azerbaijan within a year,” says Hovhannisyan.

However, experts believe that this party, which was the organizer of a Moslem prayer at the Armenian Christian cathedral in Ani late last year, has very few chances to get into the Assembly in the current elections.

Even experts find it difficult to predict what exactly will change in the currently frozen Armenian-Turkish rapprochement process after the Turkish elections.

“Erdogan is a very unpredictable figure. It is quite possible that if he manages to solve his task, i.e., to get at least 330 mandates, then he will actually have no reason not to reactivate the process. It is also possible that after the Deauville statement [of the Untied States, Russian and French presidents on Nagorno-Karabakh] something will be signed at the [Russia-hosted] Kazan summit [of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan], or a certain step forward will be made, then it will also clear the way for a fresh process,” expert Vahram Ter-Matevosyan tells ArmeniaNow.

Hovhannisyan, meanwhile, thinks that the Armenian-Turkish process should not be linked with domestic political affairs, as in the first place it had been initiated under the pressure of external forces.

“The opinion that after the elections the sides will get back to the issue of protocols is widespread especially among Turkish experts, who, in my opinion, do not believe in it themselves, but rather want it to happen or are interested in it, and such opinions from Armenian experts are perhaps simply repetitions of what Turkish experts say,” says Hovhannisyan, adding: “I am not inclined to think that this process is connected with elections and domestic politics, because this process was neither an Armenian nor a Turkish initiative, but had external influence and was the initiative of external players.”

The expert believes that under external pressures in the future it is possible to again initiate some steps in Turkey aimed at settling the problem but, according to her, the program of normalization of relations with Armenia has been put into a “deep drawer” and won’t be in the forefront of political discourse even after the elections.

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