What Pashinyan-Erdogan phone talks mean for Armenian-Turkish normalization process
Pashinyan-Erdogan telephone conversation
Armenia and the international Armenian diaspora are buzzing about the telephone conversation between Pashinyan and Erdogan. The Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Turkey held a telephone conversation on June 11. The message distributed by the Armenian government does not say on whose initiative the conversation took place.
This was the first direct contact between Pashinyan and Erdogan. It is reported that the leaders of the two countries emphasized the importance of the process of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations.
Armenian politicians consider the Pashinyan-Erdogan telephone conversation as a “step forward” in the normalization of relations. They say that it should not be overestimated, but it cannot be underestimated.
Messages from Yerevan and Ankara are identical
Much like after the meetings of the special representatives on the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, after a telephone conversation between Pashinyan and Erdogan, the parties issued statements of identical content.
Pashinyan congratulated the President of Turkey on the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, the official website of the Prime Minister of Armenia reports. Erdogan also congratulated the Prime Minister of Armenia on the upcoming Vardavar holiday. This is a traditional holiday in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord.
“The heads of state stressed the importance of the bilateral process of settling relations between the countries, which will also contribute to strengthening peace and stability in the region”, the statement says.
Pashinyan and Erdogan expressed hope that the agreements reached on July 1 during the last meeting of the special representatives of the two countries “will soon be implemented”.
Earlier, on July 7, Pashinyan touched upon the implementation of agreements with Turkey during a government meeting. He instructed the Armenian departments to work in coordination with the state structures of Turkey so that the agreements reached could come into force as soon as possible.
Four meetings have already taken place between the special representatives of Armenia and Turkey, Ruben Rubinyan and Serdar Kilich: three in Vienna and one in Moscow. During the meeting on July 1, the parties agreed to ensure the possibility of crossing the Armenian-Turkish land border for citizens of third countries, as well as to start direct air transportation of goods. Yerevan and Ankara do not report when these agreements would be implemented.
So far, the only practical result of the Rubinyan-Kylych talks is the restoration of direct flights between the two countries.
“A new page of friendship will open”: the Armenian Diaspora in Turkey
The Patriarch of the Diocese of Constantinople of the Armenian Apostolic Church, that is, the spiritual leader of the Armenians living in Turkey, welcomed the conversation between Pashinyan and Erdogan. The conversation was “a gift to a world that is outraged by war news”, Archbishop Sahak Mashalyan wrote on his Twitter page:
“I pray that peaceful methods of diplomacy prevail, and not weapons, wars and death. I hope that this telephone conversation will help open a new page of friendship in the thousand-year-old Turkish-Armenian relations”.
Member of the Turkish Parliament, an Armenian by origin, Garo Paylan wrote in his microblog on Twitter:
“I hope that the telephone conversation between President Erdogan and Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan will accelerate the ongoing process of normalizing relations between the two countries”.
“Everything depends on the political will of Turkey”
The Armenian Special Representative for the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations positively assesses the fact that the leaders of Armenia and Turkey have spoken and discussed the process.
As for the agreements reached during the talks with the Turkish special representative, Ruben Rubinyan assesses them as substantive and concrete.
“One of the most important moments in such complex processes is the rapid implementation of the first agreements. If they are implemented quickly, then this is very conducive to building trust, if they are not implemented, on the contrary, they undermine this trust”, he said and expressed hope that the results would be very soon.
Rubinyan did not give specific dates but said that it would be logical to put the agreements into practice in the coming months.
He did not specify whether the special representatives were preparing a telephone conversation between Pashinyan and Erdogan, but said that no intermediaries were involved.
At the moment, there is no agreement on a meeting between the leaders of Armenia and Turkey, Ruben Rubinyan said.
Armenia’s special representative argues that the success of the normalization process depends on Turkey’s political will. He assures that Armenia is ready to open its borders tomorrow and establish diplomatic relations with Turkey:
“If this does not happen tomorrow, and if Armenia is ready for this, then the implementation depends on the political will of Turkey, because Armenia obviously has such a political will”.
Any step towards a settlement improves the Armenian-Turkish agenda, political analyst Areg Kochinyan believes. He emphasizes that the Pashinyan-Erdogan telephone conversation should not be overestimated, but it should not be underestimated either. It should be seen as a “step forward”.
The political scientist says that the conversation between the leaders of the two countries can lead to different conclusions:
“Someone can say that a substantive process is underway, and as a result we will come to the normalization of relations. Another point of view may be that Turkey is more interested in creating an imitation of the settlement of relations than in a real settlement. It seems to me that reality is somewhere in the center.
The normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations is based on two key “footholds”: Turkish-American and Russian-Turkish relations, says political observer Hakob Badalyan:
“The suggestion that without balancing these two factors any significant progress in the Armenian-Turkish settlement is possible is wishful thinking. And this balancing act is a very difficult task, especially today.”
The observer recalls that the conversation between Pashinyan and Erdogan was followed by a telephone conversation between Erdogan and Putin. And a few days before that, the Russian President raised the issue of resolving Armenian-Turkish relations in a conversation with Pashinyan.
“The significance of the current Armenian-Turkish work is more correctly viewed as a process that is part of a much more complex and multifaceted game, and not as a work that has one goal – the normalization of relations”, emphasizes Hakob Badalyan.
He believes that a correct assessment of the Armenian-Turkish process will give Armenia the opportunity “not to fall into illusions and not have high expectations, and also prevent the risk of becoming a bargaining chip.”
Pashinyan-Erdogan telephone conversation