Former Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazyan

FM Wants ‘Radical’ Change in Turkish Policy on Armenia


YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Turkey must end its “hostile” policies towards Armenia if it wants to contribute to peace and stability in the region, Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazyan said on Monday, March 29.

“In order to have real peace in our region, we expect that Turkey will seriously and radically change its aggressive policy and end its hostile actions against Armenia,” he said.

Speaking in the Armenian parliament, Ayvazyan noted that Ankara has never reciprocated Armenian attempts to improve bilateral relations.

The remarks contrasted with recent days’ statements on Turkish-Armenian relations made by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the secretary of his Security Council, Armen Grigoryan.

In an interview with Armenian Public Television, Grigoryan pointedly declined to clarify whether he believes that Turkey remains an enemy of Armenia after the autumn war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“If we are opting for the unblocking of the region there have to be some corrections in our approaches, and we are working in that direction,” he said in that regard.

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Pashinyan similarly stated on Sunday that Armenia also needs to review its policies towards Turkey as well as Azerbaijan. “We, the regional countries, must reappraise our mutual attitudes and postures,” he said.

Grigoryan’s comments were denounced by opposition leaders and other critics of the Armenian government. They portrayed them as further proof of Pashinyan’s desire to continue sacrificing Armenia’s national interests.

Some oppositionists went as far as to claim that the government is ready to thwart greater international recognition of the 1915 Armenian Genocide in return for the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border.

Ankara shut down the border in 1993 and has refused to establish diplomatic relations with Yerevan since then out of solidarity with Azerbaijan. It has yet to clarify whether a Karabakh settlement acceptable to Baku remains a precondition for normalizing Turkish-Armenian relations after the six-week war that resulted in the restoration of Azerbaijani control over all districts around Karabakh.

Answering a question from an Armenian opposition lawmaker, Ayvazyan insisted on Monday that he is not aware of any Turkish-Armenian talks or other diplomatic contacts.

During the six-week war stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire on November 10, the Turks supported the Azerbaijani army with weapons and expert advice. They also reportedly recruited thousands of Syrian mercenaries and sent them to fight in Ankara on the Azerbaijani side.

Armenian leaders have repeatedly described the hostilities as a “Turkish-Azerbaijani aggression” against Armenia and Karabakh.

According to Ruben Safrastyan, a Yerevan-based Turkey analyst, Turkey continues to pose a serious security threat to Armenia and has no intention to normalize relations with the latter.

“In these circumstances, I think that we would be wrong to pursue such a [conciliatory] policy,” Safrastyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “It would do us no good. It could only cause damage.”

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