Armenia, Turkey ‘Getting Closer’ to Diplomatic Ties

Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian with Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan.

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The foreign ministers of Armenia and Turkey reported further progress towards the normalization of bilateral relations after weekend talks in Munich that also involved President Serzh Sarkisian.

Eduard Nalbandian and Ali Babacan met in the southern German city on the sidelines of an international security conference for the second time in just over a week. Babacan also had a separate conversation there with Sarkisian, who headed the Armenian delegation at the annual high-level forum.

“You know that after the [January 29] meeting between the Armenian president and the Turkish prime minister in Davos, the foreign ministers were instructed to make additional efforts to normalize relations,” Nalbandian told journalists after the talks.

“I and Mr. Babacan met for that purpose,” he said in remarks broadcast by the Armenian Second TV Channel on Saturday. “The meeting was constructive. We are moving forward and getting closer to the normalization of relations.”

"We made progress in talks on how to normalize relations," Babacan said on Sunday, according to the Anatolia news agency.

A spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry likewise described the talks as “quite productive.” “These talks aim at normalizing the relations between Turkey and Armenia," the official, Burak Ozugergin, was quoted by Anatolia as saying.

Sarkisian met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Swiss resort town after months of unprecedented Turkish-Armenian diplomatic contacts that have raised hopes for the establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of the border between the two neighboring states. Neither Nalbandian, nor Babacan said in Munich just when that could happen.

Babacan discussed one of the main obstacles to the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement, the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov during a visit to Baku on Monday. “The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be resolved solely within the framework of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity,” the Turkish minister told reporters in Baku, according to the Trend news agency.

Babacan and official Azerbaijani sources did not say if the Turkish-Armenian dialogue was on the agenda of the talks. There have been some indications that Ankara is ready to stop linking the normalization of its strained relations with Yerevan with a Karabakh settlement acceptable to Baku. Azerbaijani politicians and pundits have expressed concern at such prospect.

In Yerevan, meanwhile, Sarkisian met on Monday with Bako Sahakian, president of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. His office said Sarkisian briefed the Karabakh Armenian leader on the results of his January 28 meeting in Zurich with Alyiev.


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