Armenia's foreign minister Edouard Nalbandian, third left, and Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, second right, shake hands after the signing ceremony of Turkey and Armenia peace deal in Zurich, October 10 2009.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, left, is welcomed by Swiss foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey before the signing ceremony of Turkey and Armenia peace deal in Zurich, October 10 2009.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, left, is welcomed by Swiss foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey before the signing ceremony of Turkey and Armenia peace deal in Zurich, October 10 2009.
Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian signed an agreement in Zurich on October 10 2009 that will enable normalisation of diplomatic relations and opening of borders – but there was last-minute drama when representatives of Yerevan objected to a statement that Ankara planned to have read out after the signing was completed.
This delayed the ceremony for more than two hours.
It was not immediately clear what had resolved the dispute about the planned statement by Turkey, CNN said. News agency Reuters, quoting Turkish sources, said that the problem had been cleared away by an agreement not to make post-signing statements.
Hopes are for the signing of the agreement, which was attended by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, to bring a new era to the bilateral relations between Turkey and Armenia after decades of profound tension over the World War 1 episode that Armenia, backed by a number of Western countries. describes as the Armenian genocide but which Ankara insists was a large-scale loss of life as a side-effect of the chaos of war.
The agreement is subject to ratification by the parliaments of Turkey and of Armenia.
Plans for the signing led to protests and analysts say strong domestic opposition in both countries will likely slow the process.
About 10 000 protesters marched against the agreement in Yerevan on October 9, the Voice of America reported.
The agreement calls for a joint commission of independent historians to examine the genocide issue, which some experts say is a concession to Turkey since the panel will reopen an issue Armenia says has already been confirmed.
An ongoing territorial dispute between Armenia and Turkey's ally, Azerbaijan, could also complicate efforts to normalise Armenian-Turkish relations.
Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in solidarity with Azerbaijan, which was fighting Armenian-backed separatists in Azerbaijan's breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh territory.
Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev said on October 9 that talks with his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarkisian, about the disputed enclave had failed, contradicting previous statements by Russia.
Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, reporting from Yerevan, quoted an Armenian opposition leader as saying his party would campaign for Sarkisian's resignation if the signing went ahead.
Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun) leader Hrant Markarian told RFE/RL that his party was willing to find a compromise with the government, but added that it "will not hesitate to go to the end, to go for regime change."
Another major opposition party, Heritage (Zharangutiun), has also threatened to push for a change of leadership. Its leader, Raffi Hovannisian, said on October 8 that the signing and ratification of the protocols "would create the need for fresh" presidential and parliamentary elections, RFE/RL said.
CNN said that during the US presidential campaign, then-candidate Barack Obama called for passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution. Since Obama’s election, he has stepped back from the issue.