Armenia, Turkey appoint envoys to normalize relations - what are the prospects for reconciliation?
Ankara and Yerevan will appoint special envoys who will deal with the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, the Foreign Ministry of Armenia has confirmed this after the Turkish Foreign Minister announced this on December 13. Who exactly will represent the countries in this new process is still unknown.
A closed discussion has already taken place in the Armenian parliament. This is a painful topic for the Armenian society, since Turkey is not perceived as a friendly state, there are even no diplomatic relations with it, and during the second Karabakh war, this country openly supported Azerbaijan.
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Çavuşoğlu: “We will appoint special representatives in the near future”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke about the launch of the process of normalizing relations with Armenia in parliament:
“In the near future, on a reciprocal basis, we will appoint special representatives to normalize relations with Armenia”.
The minister informed the Turkish deputies about the resumption of flights:
“International charter flights will be opened from Istanbul to Yerevan”.
Çavuşoğlu added that Turkey will check all its steps to normalize Armenian-Turkish relations with Azerbaijan.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia: “Armenia is ready”
Press Secretary of the Armenian Foreign Ministry Vahan Hunanyan said that Yerevan assesses the statement of the Turkish Foreign Minister positively and confirms that the Armenian side will also appoint a special representative for this dialogue:
“Armenia, both before and now, is ready for the process of normalizing relations with Turkey without preconditions, which is spelled out in the program of the Armenian government”.
The names of the special representatives were not disclosed
After the official statement of the Foreign Ministry, an active discussion began in Armenia who could be appointed as a special representative.
Eduard Aghajanyan, a deputy from the ruling Civil Contract party, head of the commission on foreign relations, told reporters that this issue has not yet been resolved.
However, another deputy from the government, chairman of the parliamentary commission on defense and security Andranik Kocharyan stated:
“There are people appointed for the dialogue – by them and by us. I don’t assume it’s approved”.
However, he did not give a name, but only said that it would be announced “when the time is right”.
“The principle of ‘normalization without preconditions’ is violated”
Yerevan has constantly spoken about its readiness to start a dialogue with Turkey without preconditions, but Armenia starts this process in conditions when Turkey puts them forward. This is the opinion of Tigran Abrahamyan, a deputy from the opposition bloc “I Have the Honor”.
The MP stresses that a few weeks ago, the Armenian Foreign Minister himself admitted that Turkey is putting forward preconditions for the Armenian-Turkish process.
Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan in an interview with the French Le Figaro stated that Turkey is putting forward new conditions, in particular, the provision of a “corridor” that will connect Azerbaijan with its exclave Nakhichevan. At the same time, the minister said that such an issue could not be discussed at all. The Armenian side has already stated more than once that it is ready to unblock communications, but is categorically opposed to providing neighbors with roads that will not be under its sovereign control.
Tigran Abrahamyan believes that this closed, secret process of establishing relations with Turkey may have “destructive consequences”, and to what extent it is difficult to assess.
According to Artsvik Minasyan, a deputy from the opposition parliamentary bloc “Hayastan” (Armenia), the country’s authorities either do not realize what they are doing, or are deliberately leading Armenia to ruin. He explains his point of view by the fact that Armenia, weakened after the second Karabakh war, cannot defend its interests in negotiations with the Turkish-Azerbaijani tandem. Therefore, according to Artsvik Minasyan, it should not get involved in an obviously losing process.
He is sure that the beginning negotiations cannot serve the national interests of Armenia, it is impossible to talk about good-neighborly relations with a country “wishing to destroy the Armenian state”, “not recognizing the crimes committed against its people” (the MP talks about the Armenian genocide at the beginning of the 20th century).
Before the massacre that took place in Ottoman Turkey in 1915, about two and a half million Armenians lived on the territory of the Ottoman Empire. As a result of the killings and mass deportations, more than half of them died. Armenia, several Western countries and international organizations officially recognize these events as genocide. Turkey categorically rejects such a formulation.
Minasyan also suggested thinking about why, before September 27, 2020, that is, the beginning of the last war in Karabakh, Turkey refused to discuss the issue of normalizing relations with Armenia, but is ready now – after the defeat of the Armenian side. The MP stressed that the Hayastan party, which he represents, will fight against these anti-state processes.
“Normalization is in the interests of Armenia”
The Parliamentary Commission on Foreign Relations organized a closed discussion on the topic of the Armenian-Turkish relations. The MPs met with the former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, the author of the book “White Paper” on Armenian-Turkish relations, Zhirayr Liparityan.
After the discussion, Liparian refused to answer journalists’ questions. They were answered by the chairman of the parliamentary commission on foreign relations Eduard Aghajanyan. He stated that the establishment of diplomatic relations with Turkey does not mean that Armenia renounces its state interests:
“On the contrary, we are convinced that it is in the state interests of Armenia to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey”.
According to Aghajanyan, this is not an easy process, but the government is ready to follow this path, Armenia cannot avoid relations with the countries of the region, as they do with Armenia:
“Therefore, there is simply no alternative to establishing good-neighborly relations with neighboring countries”.
In 1991, after the collapse of the USSR, Turkey officially recognized the Republic of Armenia, but refuses to establish diplomatic relations. In 1993, Turkey unilaterally closed its air and land borders with Armenia. The air border was opened in 1995, as it is written on the website of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, “under pressure from the international community”.
After the Karabakh war in the early 1990s, Turkey put forward a number of conditions to open the land border and establish diplomatic relations. Among them was the return to Azerbaijan of the regions under the control of the unrecognized NKR. This condition disappears, since these territories are already under the control of Azerbaijan after the second Karabakh war in 2020.
Another condition of Turkey has always been the rejection of international recognition of the Armenian genocide.