Turkey and Armenia to hold talks on restoring ties next week
The special envoys of Turkey and Armenia are expected to meet in the Russian capital next week as the two countries take steps towards normalising ties, the foreign ministries of both countries have announced.
Vahan Hunanyan, a spokesman for the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday that first meeting of the special representatives of Armenia and Turkey would be held on 14 January in Moscow, without elaborating further. The news was confirmed in a similar statement from Ankara's foreign mininstry.
Special envoys Serdar Kilic, a former Turkish ambassador to the US, and Armenia's deputy parliamentary speaker, Ruben Rubinyan, are expected to work on a roadmap that will cover a series of confidence-building measures, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week.
Armenia and Turkey signed a landmark peace accord in 2009 to restore ties and open their shared border after decades, but the deal was never ratified and ties have remained tense.
During the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Ankara supported Azerbaijan and accused Yerevan of occupying Azeri territories.
Before the war, Azerbaijan had been blocking Turkish attempts to open the border with Armenia, saying Yerevan must first withdraw from its occupied territories. However, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said last year that their stance on the issue had changed.
Last year, US President Joe Biden declared the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces during World War I a genocide, a move that irked the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
At the time, Turkish officials told Middle East Eye that the move would also harm reconciliation efforts with Armenia.
While Erdogan has sent several messages of condolence to the Armenians over the past few years, the Turkish government also maintains that Turkish citizens were also killed by Armenians during the war.
The Turkish president has for years called for the establishment of a joint historical committee with Armenia to establish "the facts on the issue".
More than 30 countries, including Germany, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Russia, Greece, and the Netherlands, the Armenian killings as a genocide, as does the Catholic Church and European Council.
Historians say an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed in Ottoman-controlled territory through systematic deportations, starvation and murder.
While Turkey acknowledges that many Armenians died during the conflict, the Turkish government denies the killings were part of a mass systemised murder.