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Erdoğan says Armenian diasporas in France, US negatively affecting normalization

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Turkey’s normalization with Armenia is being negatively affected by the actions of the Armenian diasporas in France and the US, local media reported on Thursday.

The president held a press conference in Ankara before his departure for Samarkand, Uzbekistan, to attend the ninth summit of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS), answering questions about Turkish-Armenian relations, which have recently been on the agenda.

When asked whether a new step is expected in the process of normalization with Armenia, Erdoğan replied that during his last meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in Prague, he told him, “If you manage relations with Azerbaijan positively, our relations with Armenia will [also] proceed positively.”

Stating that the desired stage in relations with Armenia has not yet been achieved, Erdoğan blamed the Armenian diasporas in France and the US for undermining the efforts at normalization.

“Who will turn the negative actions of diasporas in a positive direction? Undoubtedly, the Armenian administration. If they can achieve this, our perspective will also change in a positive way. In this regard, we try not to make enemies, but friends,” the president added.

Historically tense ties between the two countries deteriorated further in 2020, when Turkey backed Azerbaijan in the latter’s war with Armenia for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The 2020 conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, claimed more than 6,500 lives. It ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire under which Armenia ceded to Azerbaijan territories it had controlled for decades.

Armenia and Turkey have since stepped up efforts to improve relations, including the reciprocal appointment of special envoys.

Yerevan announced in late 2021 that it was lifting an embargo on Turkish goods that it had imposed in retaliation for Ankara supporting Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan in the Karabakh conflict.

In February Turkey and Armenia resumed their first commercial flights in two years.

The land border between the two countries has remained closed since 1993 however, forcing trucks to transit through Georgia or Iran.

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

However, the agreement was never ratified by Yerevan, which abandoned the process in 2018.

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