The Turkish president, Recep Tayip Erdoğan, said yesterday that Turkey was willing to take further steps in improving relations with Armenia, so long as Yerevan was determined to continue the normalisation process.
Speaking on the way back from an African tour Erdoğan said that Turkey would respond to any positive steps taken by Armenia, noting that “the region needs peace, stability and prosperity”. He added that if Armenia could “commit to continuing the process that began with the special envoys”, then Turkey would be willing to open its borders with Armenia and establish diplomatic ties.
Armenia’s special envoy, Ruben Rubinian, and his Turkish counterpart, Serdar Kilic, are due to meet tomorrow in Vienna for their second encounter, after successful talks last month which both sides described as “positive and constructive”.
The Turkish president also re-iterated his desire for a regional cooperation platform among Caucasus countries as a way of establishing peace in the region. Turkey has repeatedly called for a 3+3 format, comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as Turkey, Iran and Russia. An inaugural meeting has already been held in Russia, though Georgia refused to attend. Erdoğan said that “Azerbaijan-Armenia relations and Turkey-Armenia normalisation process can progress by supporting each other. Likewise, our idea of regional cooperation will support and feed off these bilateral processes”.
The normalisation of relations between Armenia and Turkey has looked increasingly likely since the end of the 44-day war, with both Erdoğan and the Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinayn, speaking out in favour of re-establishing ties. Furthermore, recent steps like the meeting between the special envoys, the resumption of flights between Istanbul and Yerevan, and Armenia’s decision to lift its trade embargo on Turkish goods offer hope that a potential détente might be possible in the near future.