Special envoys of Armenia and Turkey reached the agreement in Vienna last week during a fourth round of negotiations on normalizing relations between the two neighboring states.
The Turkish and Armenian foreign ministries said after the talks that “third-country citizens visiting Armenia and Turkey” will be allowed to cross the land border “at the earliest date possible.” They said the two sides also agreed to launch “direct air cargo trade between Armenia and Turkey.”
“It is now very important that our agencies work with relevant Turkish agencies because the implementation of the political agreements depends on that work,” Pashinian said at a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan. “So my order is that we work in a coordinated way so that we implement the agreements reached as soon as possible.”
Pashinian did not give any time frames for what would be the first step towards the opening of the border which Turkey has for decades kept closed. Nor did he specify administrative and logistical measures that need to be taken for that purpose.
The Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures, which deals with transport-related issues, did not immediately comment on those steps. Armenia and Turkey do not have diplomatic ties.
Ankara has long made the normalization of relations with Yerevan conditional on a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has repeatedly said that his government coordinates the Turkish-Armenian dialogue with Baku.
Armenian leaders have said, for their part, that they want an unconditional normalization of Turkish-Armenian ties. Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan complained in late May that Ankara is “synchronizing” the Turkish-Armenian normalization process with Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.
Pashinian and members of his political team regularly stress the economic significance of cross-border commerce with Turkey as well as Azerbaijan. Economy Minister Vahan Kerobian insisted on Thursday that it will have “very big economic effects” on Armenia. But he did not back up his optimism with concrete economic projections.
Most Armenian opposition politicians as well as some economists and businesspeople are far more skeptical about the likely impact of an open border with Turkey. They say that it would primarily lower the cost of importing Turkish goods to Armenia and thus hurt local manufacturers and farmers.
Turkish imports accounted for the bulk of Turkish-Armenian trade which stood, according to Armenian government data, at 73.5 billion drams ($180 million) last year.