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Armenian border guard towers near the Turkish-Armenian border in the ancient city of Ani in Kars on January 7, 2022 | AFP

Turkey, Armenia to hold talks on normalizing ties

By :Reuters
Published : Jan 14, 2022 07:20:00 PM | World

Envoys from Turkey and Armenia will hold a first round of talks aimed at normalizing ties in Moscow on Friday, in a move Armenia expects will lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations and reopening borders after decades of animosity.

Turkey and Armenia have had no diplomatic or commercial ties for three decades and the talks are the first attempt to restore links since a 2009 peace accord.

That deal was never ratified, and ties have remained tense.

The neighbours are at odds over various issues, primarily the 1915 massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

Armenia says the 1915 killings constitute a genocide. Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during the World War One, but contests the figures and denies the killings were systematically orchestrated or constitute a genocide.

During the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Ankara supported Azerbaijan and accused ethnic Armenian forces of occupying Azeri territory. Turkey began calling for a rapprochement after the conflict, as it sought greater influence in the region.

Russia's TASS news agency cited Armenia's foreign ministry as saying on Thursday that Yerevan expected the latest talks to lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of frontiers closed since 1993.

Armenia says the 1915 killings constitute a genocide. Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War One, but contests the figures and denies the killings were systematically orchestrated or constitute a genocide.

During the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Ankara supported Azerbaijan and accused ethnic Armenian forces of occupying Azeri territory. Turkey began calling for a rapprochement after the conflict, as it sought greater influence in the region.

Russia's TASS news agency cited Armenia's foreign ministry as saying on Thursday that Yerevan expected the latest talks to lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of frontiers closed since 1993.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday Armenia needed to form good ties with Azerbaijan for the normalization effort to yield results.

Emre Peker, a London-based director at Eurasia Group, said a cautious approach focusing on quick deliverables was expected on both sides due to the old sensitivities, adding the role of Russia, which brokered the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire and is the dominant actor in the region, would be key.

"Talks are likely to pave the way for more discussions in the coming months. But delivering a comprehensive, long-term pact will prove difficult due to the multifaceted nature of the talks and domestic political constraints in both countries," he said. "The bigger challenge will come from the question of historic reconciliation."

The fate of talks would depend on "Ankara's recognition that it must right-size its ambitions," he said.