Madam Secretary

Clinton saves the day on Turkish-Armenian accord

  Secretary Clinton was supposed to just witness the signing of a Turkish-Armenian accord in Switzerland this weekend, but she ended up having to do frantic, high-level diplomacy to save the day when the agreement appeared on the verge of unraveling at the last minute. The Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers –whose countries have a ...

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Secretary Clinton was supposed to just witness the signing of a Turkish-Armenian accord in Switzerland this weekend, but she ended up having to do frantic, high-level diplomacy to save the day when the agreement appeared on the verge of unraveling at the last minute.

The Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers –whose countries have a long history of enmity for reasons described in this recent FP article — got in a dispute over the final statements they would make after the signing. That’s where Clinton stepped in to save the day. In frantic, last-minute diplomacy, she spoke by phone from her sedan in the hotel parking lot, talking with the Armenian side three times and the Turkish side four times. After two hours of phone calls, she met with the Armenian foreign minister in the hotel. She also contacted President Obama several times from the hotel and the University of Zurich, the venue for the signing ceremony. [Update, Oct. 13: For a photo of Clinton working the photos in the back of the vehicle, click here.]

In the end, as a result of Clinton’s astute diplomatic skills, the signing of the historic accord took place only three hours late (vs. not at all), and no spoken statements were made. The agreement is expected to be ratified by Turkey’s and Armenia’s parliaments, and the border between the two countries — which has been closed for 16 years — could reopen within two months.

For Clinton, it was all just part of another day’s work. “It’s just what you sign up for,” she told reporters later in the day.

Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. @pjaroonFP

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