It is not yet clear whether Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Yerevan next year to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said on Monday.
Nalbandian handed Erdogan a corresponding invitation from President Serzh Sarkisian when he attended the presidential inauguration in Ankara last week. The two men briefly chatted during the ceremony.
“There is still quite a bit of time [before April 2015,]” Nalbandian told RFE/RL’ Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “It is hard to tell what the decision [by Erdogan] will be and when it will be taken. It’s up to the Turks to decide,” he said.
Nalbandian argued that Erdogan’s predecessor, Abdullah Gul, took four months to respond to Sarkisian’s 2008 invitation to visit Yerevan and watch a game between Armenia’s and Turkey’s national football teams.
Gul’s acceptance of the invitation marked the beginning of an unprecedented Turkish-Armenian rapprochement that culminated in the signing in 2009 of protocols envisaging the normalization of relations between the two neighboring states. The Turkish authorities and Erdogan in particular have made their implementation conditional on a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Turkey’s new Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reportedly reaffirmed this precondition earlier on Monday. “Azerbaijan can rest assured that I will make efforts to the same extent as its foreign minister,” the APA news agency quoted him as saying. “We will join forces on all issues.”
That, according to Cavusoglu, includes denying that the 1915 mass killings and deportations of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey constituted genocide. “Turkey and Azerbaijan will jointly be fighting against [recognition of] ‘the Armenian genocide,’” he said.