YEREVAN (Arka)—Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his government would open the sealed border with Armenia on condition that Armenia returns at least one of several regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan, Novosti-Armenia reported citing RIA Novosti.
“If Armenians withdrew from at least one district, the border could be opened,” Davutoglu said at a meeting with the leaders of non-Muslim and non-governmental organizations in Ankara, according to Haber Turk TV.
The statement is a first, considering that Turkey’s preconditions for normalizing relations with Armenia have, up to this point, demanded that Armenia relinquish all seven regions surrounding Artsakh.
He added that Armenians living in Turkey are part of the country and should not suffer because of the strained relations between Ankara and Yerevan. “The Armenian Diaspora is not an enemy to us, it is our Diaspora,” he said.
Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic relations. Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in a show of support for its co-ethnic ally, Azerbaijan, when war broke out over Nagorno-Karabakh.
There are several issues complicating the establishment of normal relations between the two countries, particularly, Ankara’s blatant support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process and Turkey’s refusal to acknowledge the mass slaughter of Armenians in the last years of the Ottoman Empire as genocide.