Armenia, Turkey agree to take steps to facilitate border opening at historic meeting

By Mark Dovich

Foreign Ministers Ararat Mirzoyan of Armenia and Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu of Turkey said they reached an agreement at a historic meeting Wednesday in Ankara to take steps to facilitate the opening of their two countries’ long-closed border.

“Today we discussed certain details related to this process, and we have an agreement…to take care of the respective infrastructures ahead of the full opening of the border,” Mirzoyan said. It was not immediately clear what that would entail.

The Armenia-Turkey border has been closed since 1993, when Ankara imposed an economic blockade on Yerevan that remains in place to this day.

Turkey opened its border with Armenia for the first time in decades on Saturday to allow Armenian aid trucks to deliver relief to areas of Turkey devastated by the earthquake. A second convoy crossed overland from Armenia to Turkey on Tuesday carrying more aid.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Çavuşoğlu after their meeting, Mirzoyan stressed “Armenia’s readiness and intention…to fully normalize relations and establish diplomatic relations with Turkey and fully open the border between Armenia and Turkey.”

In turn, Çavuşoğlu praised Mirzoyan’s “hand of friendship” and said he welcomed Armenia’s help after last week’s massive earthquake in southern Turkey.

Mirzoyan was in Turkey for talks with Çavuşoğlu and to meet with members of an Armenian search and rescue team that has been working in the city of Adıyaman alongside Turkish and U.S. specialists. It marked a rare visit to the country by a senior Armenian official.

Last week’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which has left at least 40,000 people dead in southern Turkey and northern Syria, has prompted Yerevan to renew its engagement with Ankara. The two countries recognize each other but have no formal diplomatic relations, with disputes including Turkey’s refusal to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Also read: Heightened momentum for Armenia-Turkey normalization

After stalling for more than a decade, normalization efforts took on a new life in late 2021 with the appointment of special envoys for talks. A few months later, the two countries’ negotiating teams announced a breakthrough agreement to partially open the border “at the earliest possible date,” but that deal apparently stalled. As of now, the border remains closed.

Mirzoyan’s visit to Turkey Wednesday echoes a similarly high-profile trip to the country by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias over the weekend. Relations between Athens and Ankara remain tense.

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

Last summer, CivilNet’s team visited the village of Margara, where the border crossing being used to deliver aid from Armenia to Turkey is located, to speak with residents about the possible reopening of the Armenia-Turkey border.

The full report is available in English here: Possible Turkish border reopening causes angst in Armenia’s border villages