Meeting in Vienna on July 1, special envoys of the two neighboring states agreed to open the Turkish-Armenian border to citizens of third countries and to allow mutual cargo shipments by air. The Turkish and Armenian foreign ministries said this will be done “at the earliest date possible.”
Deputy parliament speaker Ruben Rubinian, the Armenian negotiator, said the implementation of the agreements depends on “the political will of Turkey” which has for decades kept the border closed and refused to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia.
“In such complicated processes, one of the most important things is to quickly implement the first agreements,” Rubinian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “If they are quickly implemented it greatly helps to reinforce trust. If they are not, it on the contrary undermines that trust. I hope that these agreements will be implemented very quickly.”
“I think it will be logical if that happens in the coming months,” he said when asked about time frames acceptable to the Armenian side. “The agreements are fixed at the political level. Representatives of relevant [Armenian and Turkish] agencies must now work on technical details.”
That joint work should get underway “soon,” added Rubinian.
In a further sign of Turkish-Armenian rapprochement, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held their first-ever phone conversation on Monday. Their press offices released virtually identical statements on the call saying that the two leaders stressed “the importance of the bilateral process of normalizing relations between their countries.”
In Rubinian’s words, there are no plans yet to organize a face-to-face meeting between Erdogan and Pashinian.
Ankara and Yerevan came close to normalizing their relations in 2009 when their foreign ministers signed two relevant protocols in Zurich, Switzerland. Erdogan’s administration subsequently linked their ratification by the Turkish parliament to a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has repeatedly said that his government coordinates the ongoing Turkish-Armenian dialogue with Baku. Armenian leaders have said, for their part, that they want an unconditional normalization of Turkish-Armenian ties.