Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said Turkish and Armenian envoys will have their first meeting in Moscow to discuss normalization between the two countries, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Monday.
Speaking at a year-end evaluation of Turkey’s foreign policy, Çavuşoğlu said the special envoys of each country should first speak over the phone and decide on the “date and place” of a face-to-face meeting.
“Our impression is that the first meeting will take place in Moscow, as Armenia desires. Aside from the first meeting, we also want direct communication. … We have both appointed special envoys so that they can speak directly,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Turkey in mid-December named its former Washington ambassador Serdar Kılıç as special envoy to work on the normalization of ties with Armenia. The countries have never established formal diplomatic ties and their shared border has been closed since the 1990s.
The two countries’ relations are particularly tense over World War I-era mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, which Yerevan says amounted to a genocide.
Çavuşoğlu also said charter flights between the two countries will begin soon.
In an earlier statement, the minister said Turkish and Armenian companies had applied for permission for charter flights between İstanbul and Yerevan.
The relationship between Turkey and Armenia 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.
Russia brokered a ceasefire that saw Yerevan cede swathes of territory it had controlled for decades.
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.