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Armenia, Turkey to appoint envoys in bid to mend ties

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Armenia said Tuesday it will appoint a special envoy on mending ties with arch-foe Turkey, a day after a similar announcement from Ankara, Agence France-Presse reported.

Armenia and Turkey have never established formal diplomatic ties and their shared border has been closed since the 1990s.

Their relationship is strained by WWI-era mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, atrocities Yerevan insists amount to a genocide.

The relationship deteriorated more recently over Turkey’s support for Armenia’s Caucasus neighbor Azerbaijan, which fought a brief but brutal war with Yerevan last year for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“Armenia has always been and remains ready for the process of normalization of relations with Turkey, without preconditions,” Armenian foreign ministry spokesman Vahan Hunanyan said on Facebook.

“We assess positively the statement of the foreign minister of Turkey on the appointment of a special representative for the normalization of relations, and confirm that the Armenian side also will appoint a special representative for dialogue.”

On Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced: “We will respectively nominate with Armenia special representatives for normalization.”

“We will also start Yerevan-İstanbul charter flights in the coming period,” he told parliament in Ankara.

“With dear Azerbaijan, we are making diplomatic efforts for building regional peace and prosperity in the Caucasus,” he added.

Last autumn, Armenia and Ankara’s Turkic-speaking ally Azerbaijan fought a six-week war over Nagorno-Karabakh, which claimed some 6,500 lives.

Russia brokered a ceasefire that saw Yerevan cede swathes of territory it had controlled for decades.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev are due to meet Tuesday afternoon in Brussels for talks hosted by the European Council President Charles Michel.

On November 26, Russian President Vladimir Putin gathered the leaders for negotiations on easing post-war tensions.

Armenia and Turkey in 2009 signed an agreement to normalize relations, which would have led to the opening up of their shared border.

But Yerevan never ratified the agreement and in 2018 ditched the process.

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