President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on Tuesday reaffirmed Ankara’s preconditions for normalization of ties with Armenia, asserting that the entire process is being coordinated with Azerbaijan, which he said has been the “red line” for Turkey all along.
The talks between Armenia and Turkey to normalize relations began earlier this year with both sides affirming that they are being held without preconditions.
Last week, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, all but abandoned that principle when he demanded that Armenia quickly sign a peace deal with Azerbaijan and open the so-called “Zangezur Corridor,” a scheme advancing by Baku that envisions a land corridor through Armenia that connects mainland Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan and ultimately Turkey.
Erdogan told TRT on Tuesday that during his conversation with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan last week they “spoke about the process of normalization of relations between our country and Armenia.”
“Azerbaijan has always been our red line from the beginning,” TRT quoted Erdogan as saying, “We have said that we will open our border only after the Azerbaijan issue is solved.”
Erdogan said he was glad to hear that “Pashinyan shares with us similar ideas on regional peace and cooperation.”
“Now we expect them to take concrete actions other than words. We are serious and determined in the normalization process with Armenia. We have the goal of full normalization and establishing good-neighborly relations,” the Turkish leader said.
Late last week, Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party said that it did not view Cavusoglu’s remarks as being preconditions by Ankara. Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said this spring that statements by Ankara about coordinating the normalization process with Baku did not help the process.
Official Yerevan has yet to comment on Cavusoglu’s—and now Erdogan’s—announcement, which are clear preconditions being voiced by Turkey’s top leaders.
Special envoys on the normalization process from Ankara and Yerevan, Serdar Kilic and Ruben Rubinyan, on July 1 met in Vienna, where it was decided that the land border between Turkey and Armenia would open to citizens of third countries and air cargo transports between the two countries will be initiated.
Soon after, Pashinyan ordered relevant government agencies to begin the process of implementing the Vienna decisions “as quickly as possible.”
Ahead of the Vienna meeting, Rubinyan told reporters that not much progress had been made in the Turkey normalization talks. At the same time, he chided Ankara for the continuous “unproductive” statements, including its insistence on the opening of the so-called “Zangezur Corridor.”