Ruben Rubinyan

Envoys Named by Armenia and Turkey, No Meeting Date Set Yet

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ANKARA/YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — Turkey announced this week the appointment of Serdar Kilic, former ambassador to the US, known for his vociferous stance against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, as special envoy to discuss steps for normalization of ties with Armenia.

Kilic has long been known in the US for his Genocide denial activities. Just last year, on April 24, when then-President Trump put out a statement in honor of the day, Kilic tweeted: “President Trump’s statement is based on domestic political considerations, ignores massacre of 500K Muslims by Armenian rebels in the same period, is thus void of objectivity in reflecting 1915 events, and as such is totally unacceptable. Let historians decide on historical events.”

Serdar Kilic (photo Twitter site)

Speaking to reporters in the United Arab Emirates, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu said positive statements for the normalization of relations were recently made from both sides, adding that there is a need to take confidence-building measures.

“We consult with Azerbaijan on every issue and take such steps … Nobody should question whether we can act independently or separately from Azerbaijan. We are one nation, two states. These are positive things that will benefit us all,” Cavusoglu said.

Kilic’s appointment has been made with the approval of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish foreign minister said.

The date of a meeting between the special representatives of Armenia and Turkey will be announced in due time, the spokesperson for the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Vahan Hunanyan announced this week.

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“In case of an agreement on the dates of the meeting of special representatives within the framework of the dialogue between Armenia and Turkey, the public will be informed in due time,” Hunanyan said.

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia Ruben Rubinyan will be the special representative of the Republic of Armenia for the process of normalization between Armenia and Turkey, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Vahan Hunanyan informs.

Various international partners have been encouraging the effort. In November, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that Moscow was ready to mediate between Ankara and Yerevan and that normalization “would undoubtedly contribute to the improvement of the general situation in the region.”

The United States also has been pushing the effort. During an October meeting in Rome, President Joe Biden urged his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to open the border with Armenia, Bloomberg reported, citing an unnamed “senior Turkish official.”

Yerevan has long been in favor of reopening ties, particularly given the economic losses it suffers from the closed border with its large neighbor. But following the defeat in last year’s war, in which Turkey provided substantial aid to Azerbaijan, many in Armenia are wary of any overtures toward Ankara.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has welcomed and expressed support to the steps aimed Armenian-Turkish normalization.

“We welcome and strongly support statements by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and the Foreign Ministry of Armenia on appointing Special Envoys to discuss the process of normalization,” Secretary Blinken said in a Twitter post.

The Bloomberg news agency on Monday quoted an unnamed senior Turkish official as saying that US President Joe Biden urged his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to open Turkey’s border with Armenia during an October meeting in Rome. Ankara hopes that efforts to normalize Turkish-Armenian ties will help it to improve its strained relations with Washington, said the official.

Cavusoglu also stated that Turkish and Armenian airlines have applied to operate flights between Istanbul and Yerevan.

“These (applications) are evaluated by the Transport Ministry and the General Directorate of Civil Aviation. In principle, we approach it positively,” he added.

(Yeni Safak, Public Radio of Armenia, Eurasianet.org and RFE/RL contributed to this report.)

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