Erdoğan says Turkey is “not closed for talks” with Armenia

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that Turkey would be interested in holding talks with Armenia in exchange for it opening transit routes to Azerbaijan, pro-gov’t Daily Sabah reported on Sunday. 

In a press conference with reporters in Istanbul before his departure to New York City for the United Nations General Assembly, Erdoğan said that “Turkey is not closed for talks”. He added that if Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wanted to meet him personally, he would accept after Turkish conditions on transport routes were met in advance.

"I hope that not a negative but a positive approach will prevail there," he said. "God willing, the problem between Azerbaijan and Armenia will be overcome with the opening of the corridors."

Discussion about whether Turkey and Armenia can begin normalisation talks has been rife in recent weeks. This is not the first time since last year's war between Armenia and Azerbaijan where Erdoğan has spoken about an interest in possibly restoring relations with Yerevan. 

Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia have been suspended for 28 years due to Armenia’s extended military standoff with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh in which Ankara sided with Baku. Two bilateral protocols were signed between Turkey and Armenia in Zurich in 2009 aimed at normalising ties. They were never ratified by either of the country’s parliaments.

During last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkey was widely reported to have deployed Syrian mercenaries to support Azerbaijan amidst its 44-day war against Armenia. The conflict came to an end after a truce was brokered by Russia that allowed Azerbaijan to maintain swathes of Nagorno-Karabakh and deployed Russian peacekeepers to the region. 

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Nikol Pashinyan for his part has said he sees the possibility for normalization, but the Armenian foreign ministry has said any talks between the two states are only ongoing in a multilateral format.

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