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Armenia and Turkey take small steps from simple to complex

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Today in Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Andrey Rudenko held separate meetings with the Special Representatives of Armenia and Turkey Ruben Rubinyan and Serdar Kilych on the issues normalization of bilateral relations. Direct contacts also took place between the Armenian and Turkish special representatives. Smolenskaya Square reports that the parties have shown that they are ready to conduct a dialogue in a constructive and non-politicized way, in a spirit of openness and concentration on practical results, moving “in small steps” from the simple to the complex. It was agreed to continue the search for common ground for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries, in the interest of regional stability and economic prosperity.

The success of the talks which begin on Friday in Moscow to normalize relations between Armenia and Turkey can be measured in the remote village of Margara, Bloomberg writing.

See also Ray of hope in Turkish-Armenian relations

Its 1,500 Armenian residents are separated from Turkey by a narrow bridge over the Arax River that was sealed off for decades by barbed wire fences, except for a brief period after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The new attempt by longtime enemies to overcome more than a century of enmity and open the border evokes mixed emotions here.

“It’s a positive development, we can’t be isolated forever,” said Arusyak Muradyan, 59, who heads the school in Margara. Anahit Saghatelyan, 41, who runs a village shop, said she was against opening the border. “People say it will be good for business, but I don’t believe it,” she said. “We are not the ones who will benefit from this.

Jambul Gasparyan, 60, had a phlegmatic view of the talks with Turkey. “They are our enemies,” he said. “We don’t like the idea of ​​open borders, but it will boost trade and ordinary people will benefit.”

The catalyst for the attempt to establish diplomatic relations was Armenia’s defeat by neighboring Azerbaijan in the 2020 war against the long-disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey, which sealed the border in 1993 in solidarity with Azerbaijan, has given military support to its ally in the war and says Baku’s victory means the conflict is no longer an obstacle to talks with the Armenia.

An agreement to forge ties and open borders would help bolster stability in the often turbulent Caucasus region which is a vital crossroads for pipelines carrying oil and gas from the Caspian Sea region and Central Asia to Europe bypassing Russia. It is also presented as a freight transport corridor between Europe and China.

The bitter legacy of the 1915 murders of 1.5 million Armenians in the former Ottoman Empire that the United States, Russia, France and many other countries recognize as genocide, a characterization that Turkey rejects, will not be on the agenda. Recognition of the genocide “has never been a prerequisite for normalizing relations with Turkey,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at a December 24 press conference.

Armenia expects Russia-hosted talks to launch a process with Turkey that will lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of their border, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Thursday. foreign Vahan Hunanyan.

Yet both sides have been here before. An attempt at ‘football diplomacy’ in 2009 when Armenia and Turkey faced each other in FIFA World Cup qualifying matches led to the then Turkish president’s visit to Yerevan to watch the game alongside his Armenian counterpart, who made a reciprocal trip to Turkey.

But the initiative fell through in 2010 as the two sides failed to ratify a US-backed roadmap to build ties and open the border.

Landlocked Armenia is now pursuing relations with its larger neighbor to “overcome isolation” threatening its economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, said Richard Giragosian, director of the Center for Area Studies, a think tank in Yerevan. “A second factor stems from the new post-war reality and the process of restoring regional trade and transport links” in the Caucasus, he said.

While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won’t win ‘significant political points or economic gains from the short-term initiative’, a successful process will improve Turkey’s access to Central Asian markets and boost trade and regional investments, said Emre Peker, Director Europe. for the Eurasia group.

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