“I could have found a thousand reasons not to come” – Speaker of the Armenian Parliament in Ankara
Armenian Speaker of Parliament in Ankara
“Despite the difference in the positions of Armenia and Turkey on a number of issues, we hope that this meeting will serve as a basis for establishing the Armenian-Turkish parliamentary dialogue and forming the necessary basis for its continuation,” Alen Simonyan, the speaker of the Armenian parliament, said at a meeting with his Turkish counterpart.
Simonyan participated in a summit of speakers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, where he also met with the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament, Mustafa Şentop.
In a conversation with the latter, Simonyan also raised the issue of closing Turkish airspace for flights from Armenia to third countries and expressed hope that they would be able to contribute to solving the problem. Şentop confirmed that the ban is connected with the opening of the Nemesis monument in Yerevan. The speaker of the Armenian parliament replied that there are many reasons why bilateral relations have stopped, and added that his visit expresses “an impulse to move forward.”
On April 29, Turkey closed its airspace to aircraft of the Armenian company Flyone Armenia, which operates flights to Europe through Turkish airspace. Then it turned out that the ban applies to all flights from Armenia to third countries, but does not apply to flights to Turkey itself. Later, Ankara clarified that the decision was made due to a “provocative step”, the unveiling of the Nemesis monument on April 25 in memory of the participants in the operation of the same name.
Operation Nemesis was a retaliation action developed by the Dashnaktsutyun party in 1919, as revenge on the leaders of the Ottoman Empire who organized the genocide and massacres of Armenians in Baku in 1918.
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“I don’t want this to be perceived as a manifestation of state foreign policy”
On the installation of the Nemesis monument, the speaker stressed that this decision was made by the local government.
“And I don’t want the installation of the monument here to be perceived as a manifestation of Armenia’s state foreign policy,” Simonyan stated.
“If you wish, you can always find reasons and opportunities for worsening relations. I, too, could find a thousand different reasons not to come to Turkey. But I am here to tell Turkish society that Armenia is ready for peace and normalization of relations without preconditions.”
Simonyan vowed that Armenia is absolutely sincere in its efforts to normalize relations.
“You need to understand that the path will not be easy, but we must move forward. I hope that the Turkish partners will also move forward, and we will take advantage of this historic opportunity, and open a new page for us and the region,” he said.
“There are certain achievements”
In a conversation with Mustafa Şentop, Simonyan said that he noticed “certain achievements” in the process of normalizing Armenian-Turkish relations and, according to him, Armenia shows “constructive involvement” in the process, in particular on the issue of opening the Armenian-Turkish land border for citizens of third countries and those with diplomatic passports. He expressed regret that he himself was not able to cross the land border with a diplomatic passport to participate in this event.
Şentop noted that Turkey seeks to normalize relations with Armenia, but emphasized the importance of the Azerbaijani factor for his country:
“A possible early resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is beneficial not only to the conflicting parties, but to the entire region.”
To which Simonyan replied that Armenia “is guided by a peaceful agenda, while Baku’s approaches are not constructive; Azerbaijan is acting from a maximalist position.”
The statesmen also discussed issues related to the return of Armenian prisoners of war held in Azerbaijan and the post-war situation in the region.
“Armenia has no territorial claims against its neighbors”
These words came from Alen Simonyan at the conference.
“And we expect that our neighbors will be guided by this principle,” he added.
The speaker recalled the meeting of the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and France, held in Prague on October 6, 2022, at the initiative of the head of the European Council, at which the parties recognized each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
He raised the matter of territorial claims in the context of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, in particular the “unprovoked military provocations and aggression” against the sovereign territories of Armenia, the blocking of the Lachin corridor, and the installation of an “illegal checkpoint” there.
“Any situation arising from the use of aggression against Armenia cannot become the basis of a stable and lasting peace,” he said.
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Alen Simonyan’s visit to Turkey