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Russia says ready to assume mediator role for Turkey-Armenia normalization

Russian deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko has said Russia is ready to act as a mediator between Turkey and Armenia in their efforts toward normalizing relations, the state-run Sputnik news agency reported on Wednesday.

Rudenko said normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia will definitely help improve the general situation in the region and that Russia is pleased with the steps taken recently by Ankara and Yerevan to start dialogue.

Rudenko also voiced Russia’s satisfaction with the appointment of special envoys by Turkey and Armenia to discuss the issue of normalization, which he described as a “tough” one.

Turkey in mid-December named its former Washington ambassador Serdar Kılıç and Armenia named deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Ruben Rubinyan as their special envoys to work on the normalization of ties between the two countries.

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

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced on Monday that Turkish and Armenian envoys will have their first meeting in Moscow to discuss normalization.

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 they can speak directly,” Çavuşoğlu said.

The two countries’ relations are particularly tense over the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, which Yerevan says amounted to a genocide.

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.

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