Turkey stops some of the terms of blockade against Armenia functioning since 1992: now Armenia can use the airspace of Turkey as any other country of the world, not needing permission for passing through the area of modern Turkey. This step made by Turkey became possible after warming in the relations of the two countries after the recent invitation of Serzh Sargsyan to his Turkish counterpart to visit Armenia for watching Armenia-Turkey football match. Numerous international organizations state their position concerning the absence of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia condemning Turkish blockade of Armenia and demanding Turkey make steps towards the normalization of their relations with Eastern neighbour.
Recently the UN General Secretary Pan Gi Mun highly appreciated “the football diplomacy” of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, which became a huge positive step for starting the normalization process of the relations between the two countries.
The recent warming in Armenia-Turkey relations brought to discontent of Azerbaijan, a strategic partner of Turkey. The two countries implement double-side blockade against Armenia since 1993, the reason was that Armenia demands the recognition of 1.5 million Armenians genocide in Western Armenia and the rest of Ottoman Empire starting from 1876-1923, which Turkey denies. The other reason was Artsakh (Karabakh) war, initiated by Azerbaijan aiming at preventing the independence of Artsakh, which once was granted to Azerbaijan in early 20s of 20th century by Josef Stalin.
During the referendum organized within the frames of Artsakh (Karabakh) in 1991 the people of the region has made their decision of solving the mistake made by Stalin in the start of 20th century and leave the structure of Azerbaijan according to the Soviet Constitution acting at that moment. The followed military actions initiated by Azerbaijani officials aiming at preventing the independence of Artsakh brought to a war lasted until 1994, factual capitulation of Azerbaijan and signing of unlimited ceasefire.
Today Armenia goes towards rapprochement with Turkey, as well as Turkey started positive steps towards its neighbour, but Azerbaijan doesn’t seem to wish normalization of relations in the South Caucasus: since the time Turkish president accepted its Armenian counterpart invitation, Azerbaijan mass-media stated a complete hysteria aimed at blocking any positive steps towards Armenia. The highest levels of Azerbaijani government claimed in panic confronting messages against Turkish steps towards the improvement of situation in South Caucasus. The Department head of Azerbaijani President’s Office warns:
Turkish President’s visit to Armenia is not the one to be forgotten tomorrow… We will see everything in a month or two. Maybe, those criticizing this visit will repent for its consequences. Theoretically, it is also possible
In any case Turkish president visited Armenia and met Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan. Turkish and Armenian mass-media claim this visit will serve a good basis for common rapprochement of both societies, the time of confrontation is left behind and tense relations are not wished either in Armenia, or in Turkey.
It seems all the parts interested in stabilization and improvement of the situation in South Caucasus are satisfied with the current situation, but Azerbaijan. The special rapporteur of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on Nagorno Karabakh and Georgia Goran Lennmarker says:
Improvement of relations between Armenia and Turkey will have positive influence on the settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict
Turkish president Abdullah Gul visits Yerevan, meeting his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan. Accepting Armenian president’s invitation to visit Armenia for watching together the football match between the two countries, Abdullah Gul made a reciprocal spet towards normalizing of relations between Armenia and Turkey. The match ended two neal to Turkey. The two parts had a common dinner and discussed future steps aimed at rapprochement of two countries.
Turkish Hurriet reports, Turkey president Abdullah Gul accepts his Armenian counterpart’s invitation to visit Armenia for watching together football match between the two countries on September 6th. The warming in relations of Armenia and Turkey signifies start of new age in the relations of two neighbouring countries.
In 1993 Turkey aiming at joining the Armenian region of Artsakh (Karabakh) to Azerbaijan while Artsakh according to results of referendum announced its joining Armenia, blocked the border. Since then diplomatic relations were broken and the border closed. The recent events have been this first warming in relations since the last 17 years.
While the Armenian and Turkish press analyze the possible visit of Turkish President Abdulah Gul to Armenia, Turkish president guards are preparing for possible visit to Armenia, Today’s Zaman reports. A 15-member counterattack team is going to accompany the president during his visit to Armenia. At the same time officials at the Foreign Ministry of Turkey did not confirm the future visit to Armenia.
Meanwhile Hurriet publishes Armenian president Serze Sargsyan’s interview to the Radical:
Establishing diplomatic relations is the best solution. As a result of this, a lot of sub-committees and groups can be formed under the umbrella of a commission created within both governments…
The warming in the relations of Armenia and Turkey looks like changes the situation over the neighbouring relations of the two countries.
Turkey has blocked the border with Armenia in 1993, aiming at to stop the process of going Artsakh (Karabakh) independent during the war in the region. In 1991 Artsakh organized referendum and the people of the country made a decision to go independent according to the acting constitution of Soviet Union of that time, but Azerbaijan initiated military actions to bring it inside by means of force.
Economist analyzes the recent events in Armenian Highland and South Caucasus, claiming Turkey has got a chance for reconciliation with Armenia and getting new opportunities in the region. The recent war in Georgia showed the vulnerability of Armenia blockaded by Turkey and Azerbaijan, while opening the borders may open new perspective for all the parts of the region:
“All of this should point in one direction,” says a Western diplomat in Yerevan: “peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan.” Reconciliation with Armenia would give Azerbaijan an alternative export route for its oil and Armenia the promise of a new lifeline via Turkey.
And again about the invitation of Armenian President Serze Sargsyan to Turkish counterpart to visit Armenia to watch together the football match between the two countries.
The biggest obstacle remains Azerbaijan and its allies in the Turkish army. Mr Erdogan was expected to try to square Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliev, in a visit to Baku this week. Should he fail, Mr Gul may not attend the football match—and a chance for reconciliation may be lost.
Abdullah Gul claim Turkey is no enemy for Armenia. The statement sounds friendly, but one fact need to be taken into consideration – Turkey is blockading the border with Armenia and along with Turkish Azerbaijan realize a double size blockade of Armenia. Beside it is worth to mention numerous huge regional projects which do not include Armenia such as Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzrum gas pipeline and hundreds of other projects.
The friendly message from Turkish president is much likely just an effort to reply tactfully to the invitation of Armenian president Serze Sargsyan to come to Armenia in September to watch together the football match between Armenia and Turkey, as well as position of Armenia to start diplomatic relations with Turkey without preconditions. So it is much likely that the message is just a diplomatic etiquette than a real intention to initiate any positive steps in Turkish-Armenian relations.