Armenia’s special envoy to advance talks with Turkey on normalization of ties between Yerevan and Ankara said Tuesday that the next steps in the process depend on Turkey’s commitment and constructive approach.
Assessing the first meeting between the envoys on Friday as constructive, Ruben Rubinyan, Armenia’s representative to the talks added that he and his Turkish counterpart, Serdar Kilic touched on what he called the “positive issues” during their first meeting, which was mediated by Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko.
After the meeting the foreign ministries of Armenia and Turkey issued identical announcement, saying both sides were committed to the dialogue “without preconditions.”
“I assess the first meeting as constructive,” said Rubinyan at a press briefing on Tuesday. “But how the process will move forward, also depends on Turkey’s readiness, honesty and constructive approach.”
Rubinyan, who is a deputy speaker of the parliament, said that no agreement has been reached about the date and venue of the next meeting, pledging to publicize a potential meeting as soon as it is scheduled.
“Armenia has always stated that it is ready to normalize relations with Turkey without preconditions, open the borders and establish diplomatic relations,” Rubinyan said.
“Armenia’s willingness to get involved in substantive talks as soon as possible is because we are interested in the solution of the real problems. And this is, firstly, the opening of the border. He also reminded that no leadership of Armenia has put the recognition of the Armenian Genocide as a precondition for the normalization of the relations.
“When we say that Armenia is ready to normalize the relations without preconditions, it means that the same is expected from the other side,” added Rubinyan who said that the current status of relation is not beneficial to either Turkey or Armenia.
“We want the border to open. And we are ready to negotiate around it. The main essence of the negotiation is that there is a problem between the two countries, and it must be solved,” the lawmaker added.
However, Turkish leaders from the country’s president on down have often preconditioned normalization of relations on Armenia’s recognition of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, which includes Artsakh as part of that country. More recently, Turkish officials have also hinted that Armenia must accept a land corridor connecting mainland Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan—a scheme being advanced by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, who has been calling it the “Zangezur Corridor.”
Yerevan’s willingness to normalize relations with Turkey has met with strong criticism from opposition forces in parliament. During a session chaired by Rubinyan on Monday, opposition lawmakers said that the entire process has been shrouded in secrecy, adding that at such a critical juncture transparency must be a priority.
This angered Rubinyan countered that prior efforts to normalize relations with Turkey have also been handled behind closed doors. A shouting match between Rubinyan and opposition lawmakers escalated and, in response, Rubinyan adjourned the session.
At a press briefing on Tuesday, Ishkhan Saghatelyan, a member of the opposition Armenia Alliance said that his group will work to derail this process, again accusing the authorities of collusion with outside forces.
A similar sentiment was echoed by Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau member Giro Manoyan, who added that normalization of ties between Yerevan and Ankara cannot be separate from Armenian-Turkish relations, which envisions a larger approach that presumably is linked to Turkey’s responsibility in the Armenian Genocide.