President Serzh Sarkisian congratulated his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul on Turkey’s main national holiday that was celebrated on Tuesday.
Sarkisian’s office gave no details of Sarkisian’s congratulatory letter to Gul sent on the occasion of Turkey’s Republic Day.
The holiday is dedicated to the formal establishment of the modern-day Turkish Republic on October 29, 1923. Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal declared his country a republic three years after defeating a short-lived independent Armenian republic in a war. The latter suffered massive territorial losses and was incorporated into the Soviet Union as a result.
The presidents of the two neighboring countries, which have no diplomatic relations, have sent each other congratulatory messages even after the collapse of the Turkish-Armenian normalization process initiated by them in 2008.
In particular, Gul congratulated Sarkisian on winning a second term in office in last February’s Armenian presidential election. The move prompted strong criticism from Azerbaijan, with senior aides to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev demanding an official explanation from Ankara. One of them said the Turkish congratulation amounted to a show of “moral, political and ideological support” for Sarkisian.
Azerbaijan has fiercely opposed any attempts to improve Turkey’s strained relations with Armenia, saying that would strengthen the Armenian side’s hand in the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.