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Pashinian Encouraged By Erdogan’s Statements


Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian speaks during a government meeting, Yerevan, September 8, 2021.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Wednesday described as encouraging Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent statements on normalizing Turkish-Armenian relations and said his government is ready for a dialogue with Ankara.

“I must note that the president of Turkey has publicly commented on relations with Armenia,” he said. “We see in those statements an opportunity to talk about normalizing Armenia-Turkey relations and reopening the Turkish-Armenian railway and roads, and we are prepared for such a conversation.”

“I am happy to point out that the Russian Federation has publicly expressed readiness to actively assist in that process. The European Union, France and the United States are also interested in that process,” Pashinian added during a weekly session of his cabinet.

Pashinian already spoke on August 27 of “some positive signals” sent by the Turkish government of late and said Yerevan is ready to reciprocate them. Erdogan responded by saying that regional states should establish “good-neighborly relations” by recognizing each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“If Yerevan is ready to move in that direction Ankara could start working on a gradual normalization of relations with Armenia,” he said.

In that context, Erdogan pointed to Azerbaijan’s desire to negotiate a comprehensive “peace treaty” with Armenia after last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Baku is understood to seek Armenian recognition of Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh through such a treaty.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attend a signing ceremony in Shusha, in Nagorno-Karabakh, June 15, 2021.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attend a signing ceremony in Shusha, in Nagorno-Karabakh, June 15, 2021.

Armenian opposition leaders and some analysts say Ankara continues to make the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations conditional on a Karabakh settlement favorable to Baku. They say the Turks also want Yerevan to stop campaigning for a greater international recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

Pashinian put a possible Turkish-Armenian dialogue in the “broader context” of ongoing Russian-mediated talks on opening transport links between Armenia and Azerbaijan which he said would be “very important” for Armenia. He also reaffirmed Yerevan’s commitment to demarcating the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

Hayk Mamijanian, a senior Armenian opposition parliamentarian, denounced Pashinian’s remarks, saying that the prime minister is intent on making far-reaching concessions to Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called late last week for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. “We are ready to assist in that in the most active way,” he said.

Turkey provided decisive military assistance to Azerbaijan during the six-week war stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev again thanked Ankara for that aid when he and Erdogan visited in June the Karabakh town of Shushi (Shusha) captured by the Azerbaijani army.

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