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Turkey, Armenia to open land borders for third-country citizens

Ankara and Yerevan also agreed to commence direct air cargo flights between the two countries
Demonstrators hold a national flag as they attend an opposition rally in Yerevan, held to protest against Karabakh concessions, on 1 May 2022 (AFP)
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Ankara

Turkey and Armenia made significant progress to normalise bilateral ties and agreed to open their respective land borders to third-country citizens visiting either country as soon as possible, the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday. 

Both countries also agreed to commence direct air cargo flights at the earliest possible date. 

The statement came after the fourth meeting between Turkish and Armenian special representatives in Vienna to normalise ties between the two countries. 

Special envoys Serdar Kilic, a former Turkish ambassador to the US, and Armenia's deputy parliamentary speaker, Ruben Rubinyan, have been working on a roadmap to normalise ties since January. 

Turkish-Armenian normalisation gathers pace as Ankara expects gradual success
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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.

One of the points of contention between Turkey and Armenia has always been the latter's claims on Turkish territory. Turkish officials, however, believe the provisions in the Armenian declaration of independence and the constitution on a "Western Armenia" on Turkish lands are up to interpretation and pose no genuine threat. 

Turkish officials believe normalisation between Turkey and Armenia will serve broader security and stability in the region.

Turkish officials also mention that the reconciliation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues to be an important step in maintaining Turkish-Armenian talks.