Clinton Helps Save Turkey-Armenia Accord

Last-minute diplomacy keeps historic agreement on track
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 10, 2009 5:30 PM CDT
Armenian foreign minister Edouard Nalbandian, left, and Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu.   (AP Photo/KeystonePartick B. Kraemer,Pool)
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(Newser) – Turkey and Armenia signed a landmark agreement today to establish diplomatic relations after a century of enmity and re-open their sealed border. The move came after Hillary Clinton helped clear a last-minute snag that nearly foiled the day. The contentious issue of whether the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians during the final days of the Ottoman Empire amounted to genocide is only hinted at in the agreement.

Better ties between Turkey and poor, landlocked Armenia have been a priority for President Obama, and Clinton had flown to Switzerland to witness the signing, not help close the deal. That changed when both sides unexpectedly raised late objections, and Clinton had to engage in some quick diplomacy via cell phone from her car. After three calls to the Armenians, four to the Turks, and a face-to-face meeting with the Armenian foreign minister, the deal went through.