Pashinyan, Erdoğan say willing to normalize relations ‘without preconditions’ in rare call

By Mark Dovich

In a rare phone call Tuesday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey repeated they are willing to normalize relations between their countries, though without providing a timeframe.

“The leaders underlined their political will to fully normalize the relations between Armenia and Türkiye without any preconditions,” the two leaders’ offices said in identical readouts.

To that end, Pashinyan and Erdoğan “reaffirmed the agreements reached so far,” referring to a breakthrough July 2022 deal to partially reopen the long-shuttered Armenia-Turkey border to third-country nationals. Nearly two years on, that agreement exists only on paper, and the border remains closed.

In recent weeks, Pashinyan and other senior officials in Yerevan have repeatedly called on Ankara to reopen the border.

“It is our expectation that Turkey will start to implement the agreements,” Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan added in conversation with lawmakers earlier this month.

Turkey had previously suggested there would be no progress in normalization efforts until Armenia and Azerbaijan reach a peace deal. Negotiations on that front remain ongoing.

What’s the background?

Pashinyan and Erdoğan have spoken or met only a handful of times before, mostly notably when the Armenian prime minister attended the Turkish president’s inauguration last June.

Armenia and Turkey recognize each other but have no formal diplomatic ties, and relations remain extremely fraught. Disputes includes Turkey’s refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and its crucial role aiding Azerbaijan in its victory in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war.

Efforts to normalize relations took on a new life in late 2021, when Yerevan and Ankara appointed special envoys for talks, marking the first direct negotiations between Armenian and Turkish officials in more than a decade.

Also watch: How would opening the Turkish border impact the Armenian economy?

A few months later, envoys Ruben Rubinyan of Armenia and Serdar Kılıç of Turkey announced they had reached a landmark agreement to open their two countries’ land border to citizens of third countries “at the earliest date possible.”

Since then, the border has opened only once, when Armenia sent aid trucks overland to Turkey following a disastrous earthquake last February that leveled swaths of southern Turkey and northern Syria, killing tens of thousands of people.

After that, Mirzoyan paid a historic visit to Turkey, where he and his then-counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu agreed to accelerate efforts to reopen the border. Nonetheless, that has yet to materialize into any concrete changes on the ground.

The border, which stretches for hundreds of kilometers, has been closed since the early 1990s, when Turkey, together with Azerbaijan, imposed a devastating economic blockade on Armenia.

  • Erdogan does not understand that the Armenian Diaspora is three times larger than the population of the Republic of Armenia. He is focused solely on the residents of Armenia or those living in Turkey Whatever is discussed between him and Pashinyan does not fall under the jurisdiction of either of these national leaders. Scattered across the globe, these Armenians wait to see a sign from Erdogan that he wants to make peace with them. He can honor the property rights of the descendants of Armenians killed or exiled, without backing down from his belief that the events of 1915 do not meet the criteria of Genocide. ..On 15 April 1923, just before the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, the Turkish government enacted the “Law of Abandoned Properties” which confiscated properties of any Armenian who was not present on their property, regardless of the circumstances of the reason.

leave a reply