Reading Turkey’s Signals

Turkey’s decision to recall its ambassador in Washington for discussions following yesterday’s passage of the Armenian Genocide bill by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs is understandably getting quite a bit of attention. But in what is likely to be the overlooked counterbalance to that decision, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said today that Ankara remained determined to normalize relations with Armenia, although he acknowledged that parliamentary ratification of recently signed protocols was not guaranteed.

The recall of the ambassador signals Turkey’s willingness to flex its diplomatic muscles, which the Obama administration currently has need of in addressing Iran’s nuclear program, as well as in Iraq. But the move is mainly pre-emptive, and meant to test whether the Obama administration is willing and able to keep the Armenian Genocide bill from advancing further.

Davutoglu’s statement today indicates that whatever damage has been done is limited and reversible. It also signals that rapprochement with Armenia is in Turkey’s interests, independent of its bilateral relations with the U.S.