YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—A senior member of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation criticized on Wednesday Armenia’s efforts to embark on a dialogue with Turkey, saying that Ankara continues to set unacceptable preconditions for normalizing bilateral ties.
“Turkey keeps saying the same things as Azerbaijan,” Giro Manoyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “Despite that, our prime minister tried to have a meeting with [Turkish President Tayyip] Erdogan.”
Manoyan complained that Erdogan’s statements making a Turkish-Armenian rapprochement conditional on Armenia fulfilling Azerbaijan’s post-war demands have been construed as “positive signals” by Pashinyan. “That is directly jeopardizing our national interests,” he said.
Pashinyan first spoke of such signals emanating from Ankara on August 27, saying that his government is ready to reciprocate them.
Erdogan responded by saying that Ankara is open to normalizing Turkish-Armenian relations. But he cited in that context Azerbaijan’s demands for a formal Armenian recognition of Azerbaijani sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Erdogan said on Sunday that Pashinyan has offered to meet with him. He appeared to make the meeting conditional on Armenia agreeing to open a transport corridor that would connect Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan.
A spokeswoman for Pashinyan did not deny the offer while criticizing Erdogan’s calls for the “Nakhichevan corridor” sought by Baku.
Manoyan said the Turkish leader thus made clear that Ankara will not establish diplomatic relations with Yerevan and open the Turkish-Armenian border without the opening of such a corridor and the restoration of full Azerbaijani control over Karabakh.
Negotiating with the Turks in these circumstances, he said, would be tantamount to accepting their preconditions.
“We were and are against starting negotiations without [Turkey] dropping those preconditions,” added Manoyan.
The ARF has long favored a hard line on Armenia’s dealings with Turkey. It is now part of the main opposition Hayastan alliance led by former President Robert Kocharian.
Hayastan and other opposition groups have denounced what they see as Pashinyan’s secret overtures to Erdogan. They too believe that Ankara is not prepared for an unconditional normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.