By Harmonie Toros, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Turkey has eased its visa restrictions on Armenian citizens in what Turkish officials described Tuesday as a goodwill gesture.
Turkish officials said the unilateral measure was also prompted by humanitarian concerns.
Foreign Minister Ismail Cem confirmed Monday that some changes had been made. Turkish officials, speaking Tuesday on condition of anonymity, said the new visa procedures have been in place since January 10.
Under the new procedures, Armenians can get a visa at any border point rather than being required to obtain one before arrival. The visa restrictions had been imposed after several European countries passed resolutions condemning the World War I era killings of Armenians as genocide.
Armenians accuse Turks of killing up to 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1919. Turks reject that claim and say Armenians were killed in civil unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey does not have formal diplomatic relations with Armenia, and the European resolutions had further strained relations between the two neighboring countries.