Turkey Says Seeking Better Ties With Armenia

ANKARA (Reuters)–Turkey is exploring ways to improve ties with neighbour Armenia in the hope of heading off Western parliamentary resolutions accusing Turks of massacring Armenia’s 85 years ago–a Turkish official said on Wednesday.

Ankara believes Yerevan enjoys strong influence over the Armenian Diaspora that has promoted resolutions in the US Congress as well as the Italian–French and European parliamen’s.

The administration gave consent for a plan to win over Armenia,” the official told Reuters. “A Turkish step to drain the swamp instead of killing the mosquito is the right thing to do.”

Armenia–a landlocked country now heavily dependent on Russian help–would benefit greatly from a freer opening to markets in Turkey and beyond.

A Turkish plan to win Armenian cooperation would need Armenian readiness. The Turkish side had begun looking into this through low-level diplomatic contacts–the second official said.

"This plan has two parts. The first part is about what can be done to improve ties with Armenia and–the second–to provide a proper structure to handle the Genocide issue," he said. The official added that historians and not politicians should discuss the issue.

Much could depend on resolution of the Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Turkish ally–Azerbaijan.

Turkey has no diplomatic relations with Yerevan. Last year–when a US House of Representatives pannel approved a Genocide motion–it stopped giving visas to Armenian citizens at the border–obliging them to apply to Turkish consulates abroad.

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