Turkey and Armenia Hold First Talks to Normalize Relations

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Turkey and Armenia said on Friday that the first round of negotiations in over 10 years has been “positive and constructive”, raising hope that relations between the two countries can be re-established and borders reopened after decades of hostility.

Turkey has not had diplomatic or commercial relations with its eastern neighbor since the 90s. The negotiations in Moscow are the first attempts to restore relations since the peace agreement in 2009. The deal was never ratified and relations remain tense.

The foreign ministries of Turkey and Armenia said on Friday that the talks were held in a “positive and constructive” atmosphere, adding that both sides are committed to full normalization without preconditions. They said the special envoys of the two countries had “the first exchange of views on the normalization process”.

The two neighbors clash over many issues, particularly the 1.5 million citizens that Armenia says were killed in 1915.

Armenians say that the 1915 murders constitute a genocide, this view is supported by the USA and many other countries. Turkey acknowledges that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War I, but questions the number of those killed and denies that the killings were systematic or constituted genocide.

During the war in 2020, tensions flared up again around the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Turkey accuses ethnic Armenian troops of occupying territories belonging to Azerbaijan. Turkey has since called for an approach as it seeks to increase its influence in the region.

In separate but similar statements, each country’s foreign ministry said a date and place for the next round of negotiations would be determined later. [jm/pp]

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