"No turning points in sight" - what to expect from ongoing Armenian-Turkish normalisation process
The fourth meeting of Armenian-Turkish special representatives
Special representatives of Armenia and Turkey on the normalization of relations between the two countries met for the fourth time. But for the first time after the meeting between Ruben Rubinyan and Serdar Kylych, information about specific agreements appeared.
- “enabling the crossing of the land border between Armenia and Turkey by third-country citizens visiting Armenia and Turkey”;
- “commencing direct air cargo trade”.
The official statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia also says that, as a result of the meeting held in Vienna, the parties decided to start the necessary processes in these two directions “at the earliest date possible”:
“Furthermore, they discussed other possible concrete steps that can be undertaken towards achieving the ultimate goal of full normalization between their respective countries. Finally, they reemphasized their agreement to continue the normalization process without preconditions”.
Moreover, after all the previous meetings, the MOFAs of both countries distributed identical information without specifying any concrete decisions. In these statements, the last phrase about the continuation of the negotiation process without preconditions was always repeated.
- Armenian-Turkish ‘normalisation’ efforts continue amid third round of Vienna talks
- Armenia-Turkey negotiations: “The goal is complete normalization”
- First meeting of Armenian and Turkish envoys on normalisation of ties took place in Moscow
The practical stage of the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations began at the end of 2021. Then Yerevan and Ankara appointed special representatives to start bilateral negotiations. The two previous meetings of Ruben Rubinyan and Serdar Kylych took place in Vienna, and the first one in Moscow.
The only visible result of the six-month negotiations was the restoration of direct air communication between the two countries.
Armenian expert community does not expect any turning events in the near future, but they positively evaluate the process of normalization and all the steps on this path.
Turkey officially recognized the Republic of Armenia on December 24, 1991. However, diplomatic relations between the two countries have not yet been established. The land border between the countries has been closed since 1993.
Talks about the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations intensified after the second Karabakh war. Although the negotiations take place in a bilateral format, the Turkish side does not hesitate to state that it agrees with their agenda with Baku.
Political scientist Areg Kochinyan: “If they show us the door, we will have to climb into the window”
The agreements reached at the last meeting cannot bring significant changes to the Armenian-Turkish relations, political scientist Areg Kochinyan believes. But, he says, it is important to understand the “direction and philosophy” of the process.
“Any step towards positive regulation, especially one beneficial to Armenia, comes from the country’s state interests. Even the smallest achievements are better than their absence”, said the expert in response to JAMnews’ request to comment on the results of the last meeting.
According to the political scientist, it is not necessary to wait for turning events yet, but it is possible that small movements will be recorded at the next meetings.
Areg Kochinyan notes that this is the logic of those small steps, which Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan spoke about during his last press conference.
“I will say more, we are now in such a position that if we are shown the door, we will have to climb in the window. We have to move towards regulation at any cost”, stressed Areg Kochinyan.
During an online press conference on June 27, Prime Minister Pashinyan stated that there is an opportunity for the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations and everything must be done to use it. “If we are conducting negotiations, then there is an awareness that regulation is possible, it is possible to move forward with small steps”.
Nikol Pashinyan also spoke about concrete statements from Turkey that “create a negative background” and hinder the process of normalization. But he emphasized that this does not mean that the dialogue would be stopped at Armenia’s initiative.
According to the political scientist, it is difficult to assess the situation in general not only because there is little information. In his opinion, the important thing is not official messages, but the analysis of the interests of major players:
“The normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations is a phenomenon that contradicts the interests of the Russian Federation. One of the main reasons for the presence of Russia in the region and the level of its influence is that there are no relations between Armenia and Turkey, or, so to speak, Armenia is afraid of Turkey.
Russia is against and will always be against the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, and the United States or the collective West is in favor of it, simply because this will weaken Russia’s position in the region”.
Areg Kochinyan says that both Armenia and Turkey are under pressure, a complex system of counterbalances is being formed. According to him, time will tell how “everything crystallizes”.
Economist Armen Ktoyan: “Situation has worsened recently”
According to economist Armen Ktoyan, the currently discussed option of cargo transportation cannot have a significant impact on Armenia’s economy.
The expert explains that the volumes of cargo air transport in Armenia are small, and moreover, they are more expensive than land ones. According to him, a system solution is necessary with unblocking of transport communications. In this case, there may be an economic benefit.
“If we are talking about complex unblocking of communications, yes, we can count on profit. This may contribute to the diversification of our foreign trade. Now we have an extraordinary concentration, mainly in the direction of Russia and the EAEU [an economic union operating under the auspices of Russia]”, stressed Armen Ktoyan, commenting on the question at the request of JAMnews.
Because of the transport blockade, Armenia has problems in European and some other directions. However, these markets will become available only if there are inexpensive communication routes.
“We should consider the possibility of direct cargo transportation between Armenia and Turkey by land. Only then we will be able to get economic benefits”, the expert believes.
The Armenian market is small, and there are risks, of course. The economist claims that the devaluation of the Turkish lira and the strengthening of the Armenian dram, observed recently, have aggravated the situation. And there can be no question of unconditionally agreeing to all proposals, the Armenian side must not retreat from its interests.
“I think that the meaning of these negotiations is that there should be clarification on specific types of production. It is necessary to evaluate what competitive advantages there are according to specific types of our products – or there are none. And what to do if they are not.
Armenia’s vulnerable position should not be the starting point of negotiations. Turkey should not consider the unblocking of communications as a way of obtaining political dividends and promoting its economic interests”, the expert said.
The fourth meeting of special representatives Rubinyan-Kylych