Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has accepted an official Armenian invitation to visit Yerevan next week for an international ministerial conference.
The Armenian government has extended such invitations to the foreign ministers of all countries aligned in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) grouping, including Turkey and Azerbaijan. They are scheduled to meet in Yerevan on December 12.
“Turkey is one of the founding members of the organization,” Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara on Thursday. “Its headquarters are located in Istanbul, where Armenia, which is a member of the organization, also has a representative.”
“I received the invitation and decided to accept it after consulting the president,” he said, according to “Hurriyet Daily News.”
Turkish diplomatic sources said earlier that Davutoglu’s participation at the Yerevan meeting depends on the outcome of the outcome of the latest meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents that took place in Vienna on November 19. Both leaders subsequently gave a positive assessment of the talks.
Turkey has made the normalization of relations with Armenia contingent on a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict ever since it closed the Turkish-Armenian border in 1993 out of solidarity with Azerbaijan. Ankara stuck to this precondition even after signing U.S.-brokered normalization protocols with Yerevan in October 2009.
Davutoglu’s predecessor, Ali Babacan, attended a similar BSEC forum that was held in the Armenian capital earlier in 2009.
Davutoglu’s decision to follow suit came amid indications that the Turkish government would like to reach out to Armenia ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire to be marked in 2015. Armenian pundits believe, however, that Ankara is only keen to prevent greater international recognition of the genocide by imitating a renewed Turkish-Armenian dialogue.
“Whether or not [Davutoglu] shows up will not make much difference. Neither I nor my political team attaches political importance to that,” Galust Sahakian, the parliamentary leader of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) said on Friday
“I don’t expect real results,” Sahakian told reporters. He suggested that Ankara wants to use the rare trip to Armenia by a Turkish leader as a publicity stunt.
“I doubt that any progress can be made [in Turkish-Armenian relations,]” agreed Artsvik Minasian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, a nationalist party strongly opposed to the 2009 protocols. “If we look at recent statements by Davutoglu and other Turkish officials we will see that they have not abandoned their language of preconditions,” argued Minasian.