By Joshua Kucera
(Eurasianet.org) — Envoys from Armenia and Turkey have met in Moscow to launch negotiations over normalizing relations.
The envoys – Serdar Kilic, a senior Turkish diplomat; and Ruben Rubinyan, the deputy speaker of Armenia’s parliament – met in Moscow on January 14. Following the meeting the two sides issued identical, optimistically worded statements.
“During their first meeting, conducted in a positive and constructive atmosphere, the Special Representatives exchanged their preliminary views regarding the normalization process through dialogue between Armenia and Turkey,” the two foreign ministries said. “Parties agreed to continue negotiations without preconditions aiming at full normalization.” The meeting was not filmed and afterwards the envoys did not speak to the press.
The two envoys were appointed in December as part of their countries’ moves toward restoring ties in the wake of the 2020 war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. That war resulted in the return to Azerbaijan of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, which Armenia had occupied since the first war between the two sides in the 1990s.
The seizure of those territories in 1993 was what prompted Turkey to close the border. While Armenia has long been in favor of normalizing relations, Turkey – under pressure from its Azerbaijani allies – refused as long as the occupation continued. “With that issue off the table, Turkey began to signal its readiness for new talks with Armenia soon after the war,” the International Crisis Group wrote in an analysis previewing the January 14 talks.