04/02/2024, 10.36
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The new power relations between Istanbul and Yerevan

by Vladimir Rozansky

In early March 2024, the two foreign ministers Ararat Mirzoyan and Hakan Fidan met in Antalya, declaring their readiness for a complete re-establishment of diplomatic relations. Armenians look to Turkey to limit the influence of the Russians, while Erdogan cultivates the ambition to act as a bridge between East and West.

Yerevan (AsiaNews) - While the local elections in Turkey seem to indicate for the first time a serious setback for Erdogan and his AKP, in the East there are also questions about Ankara's international relations and - in particular - the acceleration given in recent months to the very delicate issue of relations with Armenia.

Speaking at a conference in Yerevan organized by the Center for Strategic Analysis and Initiatives, Russian political scientist Maksim Vaskov argued that under current conditions Turkey will do everything to propose its own political surveillance to Armenia; a fact that could open up very controversial scenarios for the life of the Armenian state.

First of all, "the strengthening of Ankara's position in the Caucasus, starting with the friendly state of Azerbaijan, does not arouse much consensus in Moscow". Russia cannot prevent the Azeris from developing their collaborative projects with Turkey and NATO, but the Russian military presence in the region is still very significant, and has the main purpose of assessing the dangers and threats towards Russia itself.

Armenia and Turkey have maintained diplomatic relations since the end of the USSR, although the Turks closed their borders to Armenians in 1993, as a reaction to the process of international recognition of the Armenian genocide by the state reformed by Kemal Ataturk.

The conflict in Nagorno Karabakh was also viewed with great opposition by the Turks, as it prevented free access to market corridors.

Since December 2021, following the effects of the "44-day war" in Karabakh, Turkey has tried to start a process of normalization of relations with Armenia, with a meeting between the deputy speaker of the national assembly of Yerevan, Ruben Rubinyan, and the former Turkish ambassador to the USA, Serdar Kylych. On March 12, 2022, at the Diplomatic Forum in Antalya, the foreign ministers of the two countries met to initiate a resumption of relations at all levels.

On 1 July 2022, borders began to be reopened for short periods for visitors from third countries who wanted to travel from one country to another, and an agreement was reached to reopen air transport routes between the two, and from Flights between Armenia and Turkey have resumed at the beginning of 2023.

On June 3, 2023, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pašinyan traveled to Ankara for the third inauguration of President Recep Tayyp Erdogan, the first visit by an Armenian leader to Turkey in over a decade.

A month ago, at the beginning of March 2024, the two foreign ministers Ararat Mirzoyan and Hakan Fidan met again in Antalya, declaring themselves ready for a complete re-establishment of diplomatic relations, discussing the concrete steps to be taken in this regard.

Now Turkey intends to overcome the historical misunderstandings with Armenia, which used Russia as a shield precisely to avoid Turkish influences, while today the opposite could paradoxically happen: the Armenians would use Turkey to limit the influence of the Russians, and Ankara would take on the responsibility of acting as a bridge between East and West.

Considering that one of the main objections to Turkey's entry into the European Union concerns precisely the failure to recognize the Armenian genocide, the new scenario that is being set up would radically change the balance and the mediation role that Recep Tayyp Erdogan tries to attribute to himself in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine could requalify Turkey also with regard to this negative legacy of the past.

As Vaskov recalls, "Armenians have declared on several occasions that they are not against Turkey's entry into the EU", which today would make the "window on Europe" even more accessible for Armenia itself.

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