Despite some opposition from nationalist forces in Armenia, and occasionally in Turkey also, the process of normalising Armenian-Turkish relations is gathering pace. According to the spokesperson of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Vahan Hunanyan, the next meeting of the special representatives for the normalisation of Armenian-Turkish relations will take place on 3 May in Vienna.
This will be the third time the envoys meet, after an inaugural meeting in Moscow on 14 January, followed by one in Vienna on 24 February. While tangible outcomes are yet to emerge from the process, both of the discussions were hailed as “positive and constructive”, and the political will to move forward appears to be present on both sides. Furthermore, the foreign ministers of Armenia, Ararat Mirzoyan, and Turkey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, met on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in early March. This marked the first formal sit-down between the Armenian and Turkish FMs since 2009, and Mirzoyan’s attendance was seen as an indication that Yerevan was satisfied with the direction of normalisation talks. Statements from the Foreign Ministries of both countries said that the special representatives had confirmed that the ultimate goal of these negotiations was to achieve a full normalisation of relations between the two countries without preconditions.
The announcement that the third round of talks will be held in Vienna comes after speculation in recent weeks as to the location of the upcoming meeting. Çavuşoğlu said that he proposed it should take place either in Armenia or Turkey. While he recognised that there might be pushback, particularly from the diaspora, he urged Armenia to be “bold” and agree to hold it in one of the two countries involved.
In response to this, Hunanyan said that what mattered was the political will to reach normalisations and the readiness to take clear, substantive steps. “If there is the will, the location of the meetings will become simply a technical matter” he added.