Mirzoyan heads to Turkey as Armenia sends second batch of aid

By Mark Dovich

Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan will travel to Turkey Wednesday, as the two countries’ border opened for just the second time in decades the evening before to deliver another batch of aid to areas of Turkey devastated by last week’s earthquake.

Mirzoyan is set to visit Ankara for talks with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, a spokesperson for Armenia’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed. His itinerary also includes the city of Adıyaman, where an Armenian search and rescue team has been working alongside Turkish and U.S. specialists.

It is just Mirzoyan’s second time in Turkey as foreign minister and a rare visit by a senior Armenian official to the country.

His trip comes as another convoy of aid trucks from Armenia entered Turkey overland late Tuesday evening, according to spokesperson Vahan Hunanyan, marking just the second time the two countries’ border has opened in three decades.

The Margara bridge opened Saturday for the first time since 1993, when Ankara imposed an economic blockade on Yerevan that remains in place today, to allow a small number of trucks to deliver assistance from Armenia to Turkey.

Last week’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake, one of the strongest to strike the region in a century, has left at least 38,000 people dead in southern Turkey and northern Syria. At least 13 Armenians are reported to be among the dead, according to a senior official at Armenia’s diaspora affairs office.

The tragedy has prompted Armenia to renew its engagement with Turkey, with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan making a rare phone call last week to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to express his condolences.

Yerevan and Ankara recognize each other but have no formal diplomatic ties. Disputes includes Turkey’s refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and its crucial role aiding Azerbaijan in its victory over Armenia in the 2020 Karabakh war.

This week’s developments give heightened momentum to Armenia-Turkey normalization efforts, which took on a new life in late 2021, when Yerevan and Ankara appointed special envoys for talks for the first time in over a decade.

“The combination of a sudden diplomatic breakthrough and an opportunity from ‘earthquake diplomacy’ offers a genuine opening for progress,” analyst Richard Giragosian wrote in a column for CivilNet. “It also demonstrates, once again, that Armenia-Turkey normalization stands out as a rare positive ‘game changer’ for the troubled South Caucasus region.”

Over the weekend, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias made a high-profile trip to Turkey for talks with Çavuşoğlu, despite the tense relations between Athens and Ankara.

Armenia has also been active in responding to the earthquake’s devastating impact in Syria, with Pashinyan holding a phone call with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and sending two flights carrying relief aid to the war-torn country.


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