Special envoys from Turkey and Armenia meet in bid to end chilly relations

The special envoys of Turkey and Armenia met in Moscow on Friday for the first round of the meeting aimed at ending decades of bitterness between their countries and establishing diplomatic relations. Both countries said the meeting took place in a “positive and constructive atmosphere”.

Although Turkey was among the first countries to recognize Armenia’s independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the two neighbors have a bitter relationship and do not have diplomatic relations.

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The two countries hope the talks will advance peace efforts in the Caucasus region and lead to the reopening of their borders to encourage trade and strengthen economic ties. It is expected to resume charter flights between Yerevan and Istanbul next month.

The Turkish and Armenian foreign ministries said in separate statements that their special representatives “exchanged their initial views on the normalization process.”

They said the two sides would continue their negotiations “without preconditions,” adding that the date and venue of the second meeting would be decided at a later time.

The Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency said the meeting between the envoys lasted an hour and a half. Serdar Kilic, a former Turkish ambassador to the United States, will represent Ankara at the talks, while Armenia has appointed the deputy speaker of parliament, Rubin Rubinyan.

Armenia said it expects the talks to result in the establishment of diplomatic relations and the reopening of borders, adding that Yerevan will enter the talks without conditions.

“The Republic of Armenia has always stated that it is ready to normalize relations with Turkey without any preconditions,” Vahan Hunanyan, spokesperson for the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in an interview with the Armenian Press Service on Thursday.

It is the second attempt at reconciliation between regional enemies.

Turkey and Armenia reached an agreement in 2009 to establish formal relations and open their common border, but the agreement was never ratified due to strong opposition from Azerbaijan.

But this time, the reconciliation efforts had the blessing of Azerbaijan. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara will “coordinate” the normalization process with Azerbaijan.

Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan, closed its border with Armenia in 1993, in a show of solidarity with Baku, which is locked in a conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

In 2020, Turkey strongly supported Azerbaijan in the six-week conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, which ended with a Russian-brokered peace agreement that saw Azerbaijan take control of much of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Turkey and Armenia have had a feud for more than a century over the killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians in massacres, deportations and forced marches that began in 1915 in Ottoman Turkey.

Historians widely view the event as a genocide. Turkey vehemently rejects this label, acknowledging the deaths of many in that era, but insists that the death toll has been exaggerated and that the deaths were caused by civil unrest.

Last year, US President Joe Biden formally recognized the killings as genocide, joining many other countries that have already done so.

Read more:

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Armenia seeks to expand the Russian military presence on its territory

Russia and Turkey inaugurate a joint center to monitor the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh

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