Armenian Foreign Ministry new buildling in Yerevan

Armenia, Turkey to Name Special Envoys for Dialogue

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By Tatevik Sargsyan and Artak Khulian

YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Turkey and Armenia have said that they will soon appoint special envoys for bilateral negotiations on normalizing their relations.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu was the first to announce the planned talks in Turkish parliament on the evening of December 13. The special negotiators will be named as part of “steps to normalize relations with Armenia,” he said without giving any other details.

Çavusoglu also stressed that Turkey consulted with Azerbaijan before making the decision. ”We will be taking every step together with Azerbaijan,” he said.

Armenia confirmed and hailed Çavusoglu’s statement on December 14. The Foreign Ministry spokesman, Vahan Hunanyan, said “the Armenian side will also appoint a special representative for the dialogue.”

“Armenia has always been and remains ready for a process of normalizing relations with Turkey without preconditions,” Hunanyan said in written comments to the media.

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Ankara has for decades refused to establish diplomatic relations with Yerevan and kept the Turkish-Armenian border closed out of solidarity with Azerbaijan. It provided decisive military support to Baku during last year Armenian-Azerbaijani war over Nagorno-Karabakh.

In August this year, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke of “positive signals” sent by Turkey, saying that his government is ready to reciprocate them. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said afterwards that Pashinyan had offered to meet with him.

Erdogan appeared to make such a meeting conditional on Armenia agreeing to open a transport corridor that would connect Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave. He also cited Azerbaijan’s demands for a formal Armenian recognition of Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh.

Çavusoglu made clear later in September that Turkey will continue to coordinate its policy on Armenia with Azerbaijan. “We decide together, we take steps together,” he said.

Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan complained last month about “new preconditions” set by Ankara. “Among them is a ‘corridor’ connecting Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan,” he told the French daily Le Figaro.

Eduard Aghajanyan, the chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on foreign relations, said on December 14 that the two sides announced plans for normalization talks as a result of a “process that started at some point.” He shed no light on that process.

“This does not mean that Armenia is renouncing its key national interests,” Aghajanyan told reporters. “We believe that it is in Armenia’s interests to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey.”

The main opposition Hayastan alliance dismissed these assurances. “It is evident that Turkey and Azerbaijan are now trying to clinch everything from a weakened Armenia and its government willy-nilly serving their interests,” said Artsvik Minasyan, a senior Hayastan lawmaker.

Hayastan and other opposition groups denounced earlier what they see as Pashinyan’s secret overtures to Erdogan. They said that Pashinyan is ready to make more unilateral concessions to Ankara and Baku.

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