Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian offered his condolences and “support” to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week as the Armenian government decided to send a 27-member rescue team and humanitarian aid to a southeastern Turkish region ravaged by the quakes.
Ankara opened the Turkish-Armenian border on Saturday for the first time in at least 35 years to receive 100 tons of food, medicine and other relief supplies delivered by a convoy of Armenian trucks.
Sargis Khandanian, the new chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on foreign relations, said that these developments represent a “positive signal” for the eventual normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.
“Of course, in the case of such a large-scale disaster it’s hard to speak of positive signals,” Khandanian said. “Nevertheless, we can see that … it’s possible to open the border, exploit roads and communications.”
“Let’s hope that Turkey’s government will be more inclined towards this process and we will see quicker results,” added the lawmaker affiliated with Pashinian’s Civil Contract party.
Senior lawmakers representing Armenia’s two main opposition groups disagreed, saying that Ankara will not drop its preconditions for normalizing bilateral ties and will continue to strongly support Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“Turkey opened the Margara border crossing because it needed that, and it will keep the border closed until Armenia meets all of Turkey’s demands,” said Artur Khachatrian of the Hayastan alliance.
“Secondly, if Turkey wanted to display a goodwill, it would tell its junior brother Azerbaijan to open the Lachin corridor so that 100 tons of goods are sent to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh as well,” he told reporters.
Khachatrian said that Ankara did not even officially thank Yerevan for the assistance. Pashinian was thanked instead by Armenia’s President Vahagn Khachturian, he noted scathingly.
The largely ceremonial head of state commented on the aid to Turkey as well as Syria during a meeting with Pashinian held on Friday. He said that both countries “appreciated” it.
“I don’t think that Armenia’s humanitarian aid and statements of support will be important for getting Turkey to correctly position itself in Turkish-Armenian relations,” said Tigran Abrahamian of the opposition Pativ Unem bloc.
“Turkey’s behavior and policy towards Armenia is not congruent with Armenia’s steps taken in this situation,” he said, singling out Pashinian’s “support” communicated to Erdogan.
Turkey has for decades made the opening of the border and the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia conditional on an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace deal acceptable to Azerbaijan. Turkish leaders have repeatedly reaffirmed this precondition since the start of the normalization talks with Yerevan in January 2022.