Turkey and Armenia will hold talks in Moscow to normalize ties


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Envoys from Turkey and Armenia will hold a first round of talks on Friday with the aim of normalizing ties in Moscow, as Armenia hopes to lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations and the reopening of borders after decades of animosity. .

Turkey and Armenia have not had diplomatic or trade ties for three decades and talks are the first attempt to re-establish ties since the 2009 peace deal. This agreement was never ratified and ties have remained strained.

Neighbors disagree on a number of issues, most notably the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in the 1915 Ottoman Empire.

Armenia says the 1915 killings constitute genocide. Turkey admits that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War I, but disputes the figures and denies that the killings were systematically orchestrated or genocidal.

During the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict of 2020, Ankara supported Azerbaijan and accused Armenian ethnic forces of occupying Azeri territory. Turkey began calling for a post-conflict rapprochement as it sought greater influence in the region.

Russia’s TASS news agency quoted the Armenian Foreign Ministry as saying on Thursday that Yerevan hoped the latest talks would lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of closed borders since 1993.

With its borders closed, Turkey and Armenia have no direct trade routes. Indirect trade has increased marginally since 2013, but was only $ 3.8 million in 2021, according to official Turkish data.

Thomas de Waal, a senior member of Carnegie Europe, said in November that the opening of borders and the renovation of the railways between Turkey and Armenia would have economic benefits for Yerevan, as the routes could be used by traders from Turkey, Russia. Armenia, Iran and Azerbaijan.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last year that the two countries would also initiate charter flights between Istanbul and Yerevan under the rapprochement, but that Turkey would coordinate all steps with Azerbaijan.

Flights will begin in early February.

No easy progress

Despite strong support for U.S. normalization, which hosts a large Armenian diaspora and angered Turkey last year in calling the 1915 killings genocide, analysts have said talks would be complicated.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Armenia needed to establish good ties with Azerbaijan for the normalization effort to work.

Emre Peker, director of London-based Eurasia Group, said a cautious approach was expected to focus on fast deliveries from both sides due to long-standing sensitivities, adding the role of Russia, which negotiated the high the Nagorno-Karabakh fire and is the dominant player in the region, would be key.

“Talks are likely to pave the way for further talks in the coming months. But delivering a global, long-term pact will be difficult due to the multifaceted nature of the talks and the internal political constraints of both countries,” he said. . “The biggest challenge will come from the issue of historical reconciliation.”

The fate of the talks will depend on Ankara’s “recognition that it has to adjust its ambitions,” he said.