Istanbul (AsiaNews) - Turkey and Armenia have agreed to establish diplomatic relations, reopen their borders and attempt to conclude decades of mutual distrust and resentment. The two countries without diplomatic relations, have a long history of mutual hostility, based on the massacre (genocide) of Armenians at the end of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, but also fuelled by friction linked to the events of Nagorno-Karabakh
With the mediation of Switzerland, the foreign ministers of both countries have indicated that there will be six weeks of consultation to produce two protocols, one to restore diplomatic ties and one for developing bilateral ties.
These protocols must then be submitted and approved by the respective parliaments. The borders will open within two months after the enactment of the Protocols. The agreement also foresees the creation of a joint committee to investigate "the historical dimension" of disagreements between Armenia and Turkey.
Since last April, the two countries have decided to draw a road map for normalizing diplomatic relations. So far Ankara has always denied ties with Armenia because it does not recognize the massacre of Armenians as "genocide." Between 1915 and '17 at least 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered in a systematic way. Turkey, heir to the Ottoman Empire, rejects the definition of "genocide" and says that between 300 and 500 thousand Armenians were killed. Pro-government historians state that as many Turks died while they fought against the Armenians, who were allies of the Russian invaders.
The détente between the two countries is strongly supported by the United States and the European Union. Reopening its borders with Armenia will give Turkey advantage points for its EU, but it may make cause problems with Azerbaijan which laments the presence of Armenian troops in its territory. Azerbaijan has threatened to block gas and oil supplies - linked to the construction of Nabucco oil pipeline - if the problem of Nagorno Karabakh, the breakaway region, supported by Armenia, is not resolved.