The first meeting of Turkish and Armenian special envoys was held in a „promising“ atmosphere
Turkish and Armenian special envoys met in Moscow on January 14, relaunching negotiations on restoration of mutual relations 13 years after the last similar attempt.
Following the meeting, the envoys – Serdar Kilic, a senior Turkish diplomat; and Ruben Rubinyan, the deputy speaker of Armenia’s parliament, issued identical, optimistically worded statements, informed Eurasianet.org.
“During their first meeting, conducted in a positive and constructive atmosphere, the Special Representatives exchanged their preliminary views regarding the normalisation process through dialogue between Armenia and Turkey,” the two foreign ministries said. “Parties agreed to continue negotiations without preconditions aiming at full normalisation.”
On the eve of the first meeting of the special representatives, the press secretary of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Vahan Hunanyan, in an interview with the Armenpress agency, stated that Armenia’s expectations from this dialogue are the same as in the early 1990s.
“We expect that as a result of the process, diplomatic relations will be established between Armenia and Turkey, and the border between the two countries, which was unilaterally closed by Turkey in the early 90s, will be opened. […] In fact, this first meeting will be preliminary. It is difficult to expect that as a result of one meeting it will be possible to achieve tangible results, but the process will be launched”.
Eurasia Group director Emre Peker told Reuters in an interview that both sides were cautious. At the same time, he emphasised the dominant and key role of Russia, which acted as the host for this meeting, as well as a mediator for ending the war in Karabakh in 2020.
“Most likely, the negotiations will open the way for further discussions in the coming months. But reaching a comprehensive and long-term agreement will be difficult due to the complex nature of the negotiations and domestic political constraints in both countries. An even greater challenge will come from the theme of historic reconciliation”, said Emre Peker, as cited by JAM news. The fate of the negotiations, in his opinion, will depend on whether Ankara can “assess its ambitions correctly”.
The meeting has mobilised Armenia’s political opposition and nationalists in the global Armenian diaspora, who have been trying to portray the talks as a unilateral concession by a weak Armenian government to their enemies. And many ordinary Armenians, who might have been in favour of restoring ties with Turkey before the war, have become warier in the light of Turkey’s open, strong support of Azerbaijan’s 2020 offensive and a reawakening of anti-Armenian discourse in Turkey.
Rubinyan, in his turn, said he’s willing to listen to other perspectives on the normalisation process, but certain political forces in Armenia are manipulating the issue. “I am very open to discussions, but I regret that discussions on this topic are held in an atmosphere of extreme manipulation,” he said. Rubinyan said the National Assembly has devolved into an assemblage of meaningless parties that just make noise rather than engage in substance.
As JAM News writes, unlike politicians and experts, ordinary citizens in Turkey generally have a positive attitude towards the process of establishing relations with a neighbouring country. This is evidenced by the results of a survey conducted by the publication Gündem Ortadoğu. According to the results of the study, 67% of respondents are positive about the beginning of the process of normalising relations with Armenia, 13% have not decided on their opinion on this issue, and 20% of respondents prefer to leave everything as it was.