ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey and Armenia will appoint special representatives to discuss steps to normalize their ties, Turkey’s foreign minister said.
Speaking in parliament during a debate over his ministry’s budget late Monday, Mevlut Cavusoglu also said charter flights between Istanbul and Yerevan would restart soon.
“We have consulted with Azerbaijan. Soon, we will mutually appoint special representatives with Armenia for the steps toward normalization and we will act together with Azerbaijan at every step,” Cavusoglu told parliament.
Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic ties and Turkey shut down their common border in 1993, in a show of solidarity with Azerbaijan which was locked in a conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
In 2009, Ankara and Yerevan reached an agreement to establish formal relations and to open their joint border, but Turkey later said it could not ratify the deal until Armenia withdrew from Nagorno-Karabakh. The territory lies within Azerbaijan but was under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia.
Last year, Turkey strongly backed Azerbaijan in the six-week conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh which ended with a Russia-brokered peace deal that saw Azerbaijan gain control of a significant part of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Cavusolgu did not provide further details on the steps to normalize ties but told parliament that Turkey and Azerbaijan were now engaged in “intense diplomatic” efforts to bring peace and prosperity to the Caucasus region.
Turkey and Armenia have a more than a century old hostility over the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians in massacres, deportations and forced marches that began in 1915 in Ottoman Turkey. Historians widely view the event as genocide.
Turkey vehemently rejects the genocide label, conceding that many died in that era, but insisting that the death toll is inflated and the deaths resulted from civil unrest.