Outcome of the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Turkey
Mirzoyan-Cavusoglu meeting in Ankara
The delegation headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia has been in Ankara since the morning of February 15. Ararat Mirzoyan met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, the meeting was also held in an expanded format, the foreign ministers of Armenia and Turkey also made statements to the press.
Mirzoyan told journalists that during the meeting, they managed to agree “by joint efforts to repair the bridge of Ani [a historical building of the 10th-11th centuries, part of the bridge is in Armenia, part in Turkey], as well as take care of the relevant infrastructure until the border is fully opened.”
However, there were no statements about the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border and the establishment of diplomatic relations. The Armenian minister only confirmed Yerevan’s readiness for this, while the Turkish minister expressed confidence that the assistance to Armenia after the earthquake, the cooperation “manifested these days” will contribute to the process of normalizing relations. Moreover, Cavusoglu specifically emphasized that he meant not only the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish, but also the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.
After the devastating earthquake on February 6, the death toll in Turkey and neighboring Syria exceeded 35,000. On February 11, 14 and 15, Armenia sent humanitarian aid to Turkey across the land border, specifically the Margara Bridge, which had not been used for more than 30 years, that is, after the border was closed. In addition, Armenia sent rescuers to the disaster zone. Together with a search and rescue team from the United States, they located and pulled three victims from under the rubble.
All the details of the visit, known at the time of publication, as well as the opinion of the Turkologist Andranik Ispiryan about the statements of Mirzoyan and Cavusoglu.
- Armenian assistance to Turkey
- Baku on rapprochement between Yerevan and Ankara
- Volodin’s statement: what is behind it? Comment
As part of the delegation that flew to Ankara, and the special representative of Armenia in the process of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, vice-speaker of the parliament Ruben Rubinyan. The Armenian delegation was met by his Tretsky colleague Serdar Kylych.
According to an official statement from Yerevan, the purpose of the visit is “to demonstrate Armenia’s support for Turkey, which suffered great damage as a result of the devastating earthquake on February 6.”
“This is a historic visit as a result of Armenia’s decision to support a neighbor in need of help. We hope that this is a good sign for the future development of Turkish-Armenian relations,” wrote EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Toivo Klaar on his Twitter microblog.
As part of the visit, Mirzoyan also visited one of the regions most affected by the disaster, Adiyaman, and met with Armenian rescuers who have been conducting search and rescue operations here since February 7.
This is Ararat Mirzoyan’s second visit to Turkey. In March last year, the first visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia to a neighboring country took place to participate in a diplomatic forum in Antalya. A bilateral meeting between Mirzoyan and Cavusoglu also took place then. It is already known that the Armenian minister is invited to the forum this year. Ararat Mirzoyan has already said: “In all likelihood, I will participate in this forum, where, presumably, there will also be a meeting [with a colleague] and a discussion.”
Mirzoyan: “We are not insensitive to the grief that has befallen thousands of families in Turkey”
This statement was made by the Armenian Foreign Minister after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara. According to him, the Spitak earthquake that Armenia experienced in 1988 is one of the most bitter pages in the history of the Armenian people.
Ararat Mirzoyan said that such natural disasters and their scale “go beyond the borders of the state, becoming a universal tragedy”, so the world must act as a “united front” to overcome them:
“I am convinced that the international community should not remain indifferent to any humanitarian crisis occurring anywhere in the world. It is on this principle that the Armenian government immediately after the devastating earthquake decided to send rescuers and humanitarian aid to Turkey.”
He called it symbolic that on February 11 the Armenian-Turkish border, which had been closed for 30 years, was opened for Armenian trucks heading with humanitarian aid to the Turkish city of Adiyaman.
“The same thing happened last night, and in a few hours the next batch of humanitarian aid will already arrive in Adiyaman. I thank Mr. Cavusoglu for the words of gratitude to our rescuers and the Armenian presence and support in general,” he said.
Cavusoglu: “The process of normalizing relations in the South Caucasus continues”
The Turkish Foreign Minister expressed confidence that recent cooperation will contribute to the process of normalizing relations in the region.
Moreover, Cavusoglu did not talk about Armenian-Turkish relations, but about “the process of normalizing relations between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia”:
“I especially want to note that if these three countries take sincere steps, we will be able to establish long-term peace and tranquility in the South Caucasus, and the long-term stability of the South Caucasus is extremely important in terms of the economic development of this region. The middle East-West corridor, especially after the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, has become extremely important. For this reason, we, as countries on this path, can provide an important contribution not only to the stability and development of our region, but also to steps aimed at increasing cooperation between Asia and Europe.”
The Turkish minister said that during the meeting with Mirzoyan a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan was also discussed.
Cavusoglu also talked about the reconstruction of the Ani Bridge, which is located on the Armenian-Turkish border:
“Our preparation for the future continues, there are studies from both sides regarding bridges at border crossings and there are steps that we can take regarding roads leading to the border. Today we have reached an agreement to speed up these steps.”
He also recalled the earthquakes that occurred in Armenia in 1988 and in Turkey in 1999, and stressed that neighboring countries had helped each other both then and today:
“In these difficult days, [Armenia] again extended its helping hand to us and showed solidarity and cooperation.”
Turkey’s special representative for the process of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations Serdar Kilich announced a more concrete outcome of the ministerial meeting. We are talking about opening the border for third-country nationals.
“An agreement was reached to give a new impetus to work on this issue. The two ministers have come to this agreement, and we will do our best to start operating the Margara Bridge as soon as possible,” he said.
Turkologist Andranik Ispiryan says that in their statements the foreign ministers of Armenia and Turkey did not talk about specific steps to normalize relations.
“The conversation was only about putting in order the infrastructure leading to the border. And we are waiting for the normalization of relations, which implies the opening of borders and the establishment of diplomatic relations,” JAMnews said.
Ispiryan warned that the mention of the reconstruction of the Ani bridge gave many the impression that it was a road connecting Armenia and Turkey, which is actually the reconstruction of a historical building which has nothing to do with the opening of the land border.
Ispiryan says that the reconstruction of the historical bridge of Ani is only a symbolic step, and the project has been in development since 2009-2010. He considers the talk about the bridge and the Silk Road “a historical sketch, a digression from political issues.”
According to Ispryan, Mirzoyan and Cavusoglu mainly talked about the earthquake, but in the speech of the Turkish Foreign Minister “the Azerbaijani factor was clearly visible.” All official reports on the current process of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations emphasize that it is proceeding without preconditions.
“Meanwhile, Cavusoglu did not say in his speech that the normalization process is proceeding without preconditions. Moreover, in a manner characteristic of Turkish diplomacy, he indirectly said the existing precondition in the form of the phrase “settlement of Armenian-Turkish and Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.”
He believes that Turkey is waiting for the conclusion of a possible peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, “avoiding concrete steps until then”:
“No matter how hard the Armenian side tries not to notice this, it is necessary to notice the precondition. I think our authorities already see it, they understand that it exists. And this precondition is the resolution of relations with Azerbaijan.”
Turkey officially recognized the Republic of Armenia on December 24, 1991. However, diplomatic relations between the two countries have not been established. The land border between the countries has been closed since 1993.
Talk about an Armenian-Turkish resolution intensified after the second Karabakh war. Special representatives of the negotiation process Ruben Rubinyan and Serdar Kılıç have already met four times, but so far no significant progress has been seen. Only direct flights that operated before the 2020 war have been restored. On July 1, 2022, the special representatives agreed to open the Armenia-Turkey land border for citizens of third countries as soon as possible, as well as direct air cargo transportation. In January 2023, it was announced that Turkey had lifted the ban on air freigh, but the border has not opened even for third-country nationals.
Mirzoyan-Cavusoglu meeting in Ankara