Zero progress in Turkey-Armenia normalisation talks – columnist

The third round of exploratory talks between Turkey and Armenia, aimed at normalising diplomatic relations, have produced zero progress, said columnist Amberin Zaman.

The talks that began early this year, have yet to yield any substantial results, Zaman said in Al-Monitor on Thursday.

“No progress had been made, but the meetings will continue,” Zaman said, citing unidentified diplomatic sources speaking to the news website.

Turkish and Armenian envoys have held three rounds of exploratory talks since January, as part of ongoing efforts to restore diplomatic ties between the two countries, frozen for almost three decades. Special representatives have agreed to proceed with the talks without preconditions, in the third round of the meetings held in Vienna, Austria on Tuesday. The talks, are the first serious initiative to mend relations since a 2009 peace accord that was never ratified by Turkish and Armenian Parliaments.

The third round of talks was held as thousands of Armenians protested against the effort and called for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation, the columnist said.

In his address to the Armenian Parliament last month, Pashinyan said he was pressured by the international community, “suggesting that Armenia’s options were limited and no matter how bitter a pill, the country’s leaders needed to prioritise peace in the interest of its future generations,” Zaman said.

Pashinyan’s speech who hinted at flexibility over Nagorno-Karabakh, “triggered a maelstrom among his nationalist opponents, who accuse him of selling the country out,” she said.

Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, began a successful military offensive against Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2020. The 44-day war ended in November with a Russia-brokered ceasefire. Azerbaijan regained control of much of the disputed territory controlled by ethnic Armenians since the 1990s.

“Turkey has long signalled that an Armenian withdrawal from the occupied territories would be enough for the two countries to normalise relations,” Zaman said. “Turkey is thought be holding back to allow Azerbaijan to press its advantage to extract further concessions from Armenia before signing a final peace treaty.”

They include getting Armenia to shelve all and any claims over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, according to Zaman.

“The protest movement, which started in Armenia after Pashinyan’s April 13 speech, proves one thing,” the columnist cited Armenian commentator Benyamin Poghosyan as saying.

“The majority of the politically active part of the Armenian society does not and will not accept any solution that will make Nagorno-Karabakh part of Azerbaijan under any circumstances or guarantees. Any efforts by international actors, be it Russia, the EU, or the United States, to convince the Armenian government to agree to such a solution will inevitably trigger political destabilisation in Armenia,” Poghosyan said.

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