Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan sounded optimistic about the normalization of Armenia’s relations with Turkey on Friday just as Turkish President Erdogan Recep Tayyip again demanded that Yerevan open a special transport corridor for Azerbaijan.
Speaking at a summit of the leaders of Turkic states in Kazakhstan, Erdogan hailed Azerbaijan’s September 19-20 military operation that led to the exodus of Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population and restored Azerbaijani control over the territory.
“Azerbaijan put an end to the 30-year occupation of Karabakh and we are very happy with and proud of this historic achievement,” he said. “Armenia must fulfill its obligations to Azerbaijan. This includes the opening of a transport corridor that will connect Nakhichevan to western regions of Azerbaijan.”
Erdogan said the corridor sought by Baku is important also because it would link Turkey to Central Asia which he described as “our ancestral homeland.”
Ankara set this as a key precondition when it started normalization talks with Yerevan in early 2022. The Armenian government has ruled out any extraterritorial corridors to Nakhichevan that would pass through Armenia’s Syunik province bordering Iran.
The normalization process essentially stalled last year even though the two sides reached an agreement to open the Turkish-Armenian border for their diplomatic passport holders and citizens of third countries.
“I want to express optimism that we may have some good news on this front in the near future,” Mirzoyan told Armenian lawmakers. He did not elaborate.
Speaking in the National Assembly earlier this week, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian similarly expressed hope that the border agreement will be implemented soon.
Pashinian attended Erdogan’s inauguration in June. His domestic critics denounced the move, saying that Ankara will not unconditionally normalize Turkish-Armenian relations even after his unilateral concessions.
Another interim agreement reached by Turkish and Armenian negotiators last year called for air freight traffic between the two neighboring nations. There have been no signs of its implementation, even though the Turkish government officially allowed cargo shipments by air to and from Armenia in January 2023.