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‘Positive signals’ for Armenia-Turkey relations

30 August 2021
Nikol Pashinyan (left) and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Picture via Newsinfo.am

Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have made statements that appear to express their willingness to eventually restore diplomatic relations between the two countries.

‘Armenia has received some positive signals from the Turkish side for the establishment of peace in the region’, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a 27 August government meeting. 

On August 29, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan  appeared to reply to the Armenian Prime Minister, stating that Turkey ‘can work toward gradually normalising our relations with an Armenian government that states it is ready for such progress.’

‘I wish success to the new Armenian administration’, Erdoğan said. ‘We need a constructive approach in our region. Even if there are disagreements, neighborly relations should be developed on the basis of respect of territorial integrity and sovereignty՛.

Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia have been suspended since 1993. The Turkey-Armenia border has also remained closed.  

‘Basic minimum’ 

Richard Giragosian, the Director of the Yerevan-based think tank the Regional Studies Centre, told OC Media that Azerbaijan’s victory in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War has widely been seen as a victory for Turkey — a major ally of Azerbaijan during the conflict — but that several factors ‘diminish the gains from the war for Turkey’. 

‘Turkey’s victory is neither as complete nor as convincing as it seems. Rather, Turkey is now over-extended, in both the military and diplomatic dimensions’, he said. 

According to Giragosian, opening the Armenia and Turkey border would benefit both countries. 

For Turkey, he said it could help normalise their strained relations with the West and that Armenia ‘could also serve as a bridge for Turkey to leverage Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union’. 

For Armenia, meanwhile, these relations may be a ‘way to overcome its regional isolation and marginalisation’ and bring economic benefits that would likely lead to ‘more formal cooperation in the key areas of customs and border security’ and the eventual re-establishment of diplomatic relations.

The recent rhetorical rapprochement, he said, should not be overstated. ‘This is a possible return to the basic minimum of relations’, he said, adding that it can still be ‘important as a foundation for a return to normal in the region’.

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