Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan visited Turkey on Wednesday as the Armenian government sent more humanitarian aid to residents of a Turkish city ravaged by last week’s catastrophic earthquake. Mirzoyan said on Thursday that he and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu agreed to speed up efforts to normalize bilateral ties which began a year ago.
Parliament speaker Alen Simonian claimed on Friday that the two neighboring states are now “quite close” to establishing diplomatic relations and opening their border.
“If the Turkish side demonstrates sufficient will and resolve, I think that we will solve that issue,” Simonian told reporters.
Gegham Manukian, a lawmaker representing Hayastan, insisted, however, that Ankara only made “symbolic gestures” to Yerevan.
“The Armenian authorities are trying to present those gestures to their citizens as historic developments,” he said. “But as the joint news conference of Cavusoglu and Mirzoyan showed, Turkey is continuing to condition its relations with Armenia by negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia and to speak in the same language of preconditions.”
Manukian also dismissed Mirzoyan’s announcement that the Turkish-Armenian border could be opened to citizens of third countries before this summer. He argued that Turkish regions bordering Armenia are sparsely populated and attract few foreign tourists.
“Who is going to cross the entire territory of Turkey to reach Gyumri through the Margara bridge and then go to, say, Georgia, with their third-country passport?” he asked at a news conference.
Cavusoglu said after his talks with Mirzoyan that the assistance provided by Armenia could facilitate the normalization process. But he appeared to link that process to the outcome of Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.