Armenia-Turkey negotiations: "The goal is complete normalization"
The second meeting of the special representatives of Armenia and Turkey – Ruben Rubinyan and Serdar Kilych, who are entrusted with negotiations on the normalization of relations between the two countries took place. At the end of the meeting, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said that the negotiators confirmed the desire of both countries to continue the process of normalizing relations without any preconditions.
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“Exchange of views on concrete steps”
According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, the special representatives confirmed that the goal of the talks is a “full normalization” of relations between Armenia and Turkey:
“They exchanged views on possible concrete steps that can be mutually undertaken to that end and reiterated their agreement to continue the process without preconditions”.
The second meeting of the representatives of Armenia and Turkey was held in Vienna. The first took place in Moscow on January 14. Following its completion, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Armenia and Turkey issued statements identical in content that the negotiations were held in a positive and constructive atmosphere.
Ankara has repeatedly stated its desire to hold meetings of special representatives in Yerevan and Ankara. However, on the eve of the second meeting, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that this time the meeting would also be held in a third country – at the request of the Armenian side. Armenia also insisted on holding the first meeting in Moscow.
What do Yerevan and Ankara expect from each other?
From the second meeting official Yerevan expected “substantive discussions” aimed at opening the Armenian-Turkish border and establishing diplomatic relations.
Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan stated before the Rubinyan-Kylych meeting that “signals, statements and hints coming from Ankara are mostly positive”, respectively, the expectations of the Armenian side are also positive.
The Turkish president, a few hours before the meeting in Vienna, said that Ankara would open the border and restore diplomatic relations if Yerevan was committed to continuing the process of normalizing relations.
Armenian Special Representative Ruben Rubinyan and Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan have been invited to Turkey for a diplomatic forum to be held March 11-13. Official Yerevan whether it will accept the invitation, but there is information that the decision to participate “largely depends on the results of the meeting between the representatives of Armenia and Turkey”.
“The EU will support the establishment of peace”
On the day of the meeting of the special representatives, the issue of normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations was also discussed at the session of the EU-Armenia Parliamentary Partnership Committee. Speaker of the Armenian Parliament Hakob Arshakyan expressed hope that Turkey would reconsider its policy of closed borders. According to him, Armenia has always been ready for a healthy and realistic dialogue:
“We are ready to build bridges of cooperation both with neighboring countries and with international organizations operating in various formats for the development of our country and strengthening peace in the region. I am confident that the European Union will support the establishment of peace and stability”.
In 1991, Turkey de facto recognized Armenia, but still refuses to establish diplomatic relations worth it. Since 1993, Turkey has unilaterally closed its air and land borders with Armenia. Through the efforts of the world community, the air border was reopened in 1995, but the land border is still closed.
Opposition: “Turkey will put forward preconditions”
The Armenian opposition does not welcome the process of normalizing relations with Turkey. The opposition factions of the parliament are confident that, despite all the statements of the parties, Turkey will put forward preconditions.
Previously, there have been several attempts to establish diplomatic relations, but they did not yield results due to the preconditions put forward by Ankara, in particular:
- refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide which took place Ottoman Turkey at the beginning of the 20th century;
- recognition of the territorial integrity and inviolability of Turkey’s borders;
- recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan.
MP from the Hayastan (Armenia) opposition faction Ishkhan Saghatelyan believes that the parties are discussing some document:
“If they continue negotiations, it means that an Armenian-Turkish reconciliation document is being discussed, in which all our interests will be trampled underfoot and, in fact, the conditions of Turkey and Azerbaijan will be explicitly or covertly reflected”.
“In the case when negotiations are already underway, we can talk not about preconditions, but about conditions. However, it is not clear what demands Turkey will put forward in the more substantive part of these negotiations, it is also unclear what the red lines of the Armenian side are”, political analyst Tigran Grigoryan said in an interview with JAMnews.
At the same time, the readiness of the parties to continue the process, in his opinion, indicates the absence of serious incidents that would hinder the negotiations.
Tigran Grigoryan stressed that it is difficult to comment on the negotiations on the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, as there is too little information about them. But he believes that it is natural for such negotiations:
“Of course, such negotiations are secret. For example, when ex-president Serzh Sargsyan was negotiating the [Zurich] protocols, the Armenian public did not know about their content until the moment of publication, which is normal”.
In 2009, in Zurich, the foreign ministers of the two states signed protocols on the establishment of diplomatic relations and on the principles of relations, but these documents were not ratified by either of the parties.
Referring to the opposition’s dissatisfaction with the fact that the process is kept secret, the political scientist expressed the opinion that the oppositionists are trying to transfer the issue to the domestic political field, to join the domestic political struggle.
According to the expert, the final and full-fledged settlement, which is mentioned in the statement of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, is most likely the establishment of diplomatic relations.