Turkey announces end to Cold War with Armenia

A railroad leading to the last train station Akyaka between Turkey and Armenia (AFP Photo / Mustafa Ozer)
The Cold War between Turkey and Armenia is over and Ankara is expecting a visit by President Serzh Sargsyan, said Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

The two countries do not have diplomatic relations, and the Armenian-Turkish border has been closed since 1993 on Ankara’s initiative.

“A Cold War period has come to an end,” Interfax quotes Davutoglu as saying, with reference to the Turkish media.

The minister noted Turkish-Armenian relations are no longer based on the enemy concept. He added contacts between Ankara and Yerevan also serve the interests of Azerbaijan.

For his part, Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edvard Nalbandyan said his country is aware of the statements by the Turkish official and welcomes them.

Nalbandyan confirmed Armenia’s readiness to settle relations with neighboring Turkey without prerequisites.

“Armenia can say the only thing: it is ready to settle its relations with Turkey without any prerequisites, and if the recent statement of the Turkish FM is made in this context and Turkey is ready to move in this direction, we can do nothing but welcome this process,” he stated at a media conference on Thursday, Newsarmenia website reports.

Sargsyan's visit to Turkey is scheduled for October when a football match will take place between the Turkish and Armenian national squads.

Turkey has insisted on a series of prerequisites for the settlement of bilateral ties. One of the main demands is that Armenia should drop its policy aimed at international recognition of the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire during and just after WWI – when around 1.5 million Armenians were believed to have died.

For the last two years the two countries have been holding closed talks in Switzerland aimed at normalizing their relations.

The thaw in the Turkish-Armenian relations started in September 2008, when Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul first arrived in the Armenian capital Yerevan on the invitation of his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan to watch a football match between two countries’ teams. In response, the Turkish leader then came up with an invitation to attend a football game in Turkey in October 2009. Back then the meeting was dubbed “football diplomacy” and a “historic event” by the world media.

On April 23, 2009, both the Armenian and Turkish foreign ministries and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs announced launching a road map for the settlement of bilateral relations.