Yerevan-Istanbul: "Transport and economic ties are being established"
Yerevan-Istanbul flights may start operating in early February
Turkish Pegasus Airlines has applied to the Civil Aviation Committee of Armenia to start operating Istanbul-Yerevan-Istanbul flights from early February 2022. The application is still being considered. The decision, according to the committee, will be made shortly. Earlier, in December, the Armenian Flyone Armenia company received permission to operate flights on the Yerevan-Istanbul-Yerevan route.
In addition, at the end of 2021, the Armenian government lifted the ban on the import of Turkish goods into the country. The ban was introduced during the 44-day war of 2020 in connection with the open support of Azerbaijan from Turkey.
All events are taking place after the announcement of the beginning of the process of normalizing relations between Armenia and Turkey.
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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was the first to announce the resumption of Istanbul-Yerevan flights. In December last year, the Turkish minister spoke about steps to normalize relations with Armenia, in particular, about the appointment of special envoys for the Armenian-Turkish dialogue and the resumption of flights.
Earlier, in August 2021, Turkish President Erdogan hinted at the possibility of beginning the process of the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, adding that he had received positive signals from Yerevan and was ready for dialogue.
At the end of the year, both countries had already appointed their special envoys, who will meet shortly to begin formal negotiations.
As for the air communication between the countries, first, at the end of December, it was reported that Flyone Armenia received permission to operate Yerevan-Istanbul-Yerevan flights.
Then the Minister of Transport and Infrastructures of Turkey said that the Turkish Pegasus airline is going to start flights on the Istanbul-Yerevan route. However, the official application was received only in January. It was reported on 4 January that the Turkish company Pegasus has applied for two weekly flights that would begin operating in February.
From January 1, 2022, the ban on the import of goods of Turkish origin into Armenia was lifted.
The ban was introduced in October 2020 – provisionally for six months, in June it was extended for the same period. It was planned to extend the ban for another six months, but this did not happen.
The decision to lift the ban was made as a result of interdepartmental discussions and taking into account the economic indicators of the past year, the Ministry of Economy of Armenia reported:
“The main negative effect of the embargo is a significant impact on inflation, which was especially reflected in a number of consumer goods”.
According to the results of the last year, the inflation rate in Armenia turned out to be much higher than previously predicted.
According to experts, this decision of the Armenian government will have a positive impact on the dialogue itself, which begins between Armenia and Turkey.
The lifting of the ban on the import of Turkish goods and the resumption of flights are “steps towards improving the general situation,” political observer Hakob Badalyan said. In his opinion, they will create a favorable environment for starting the process of normalizing Armenian-Turkish relations:
“If, with the help of such steps, it is possible to create an environment for the emergence of an atmosphere of dialogue without political preconditions, then such steps must be taken”.
According to the observer, if we look at the issue from the point of view of managing the atmosphere of negotiations, the lifting of the ban on the import of Turkish goods and the resumption of Istanbul-Yerevan flights could be “actions aimed at reducing the risks of political preconditions”.
The Armenian-Turkish air border was closed during the first Karabakh war in 1993. Air traffic resumed two years later in 1995, thanks to the efforts of the international community.
Turkey officially recognized the Republic of Armenia on December 24, 1991. However, diplomatic relations between the two countries have not yet been established.
The last attempt to normalize Armenian-Turkish relations was in 2009, when the Zurich Protocols were signed. The United States, Russia and France acted as mediators for the conclusion of this agreement. However, the protocols were never ratified, and the attempt at normalization failed.