Turkey closes its airspace to Armenian flights: Foreign minister

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Turkey has closed its airspace to flights by Armenian aircraft in retaliation for the erection of a monument in the Armenian capital that Ankara says honors people responsible for the killings of Turkish officials, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday.

In an interview with NTV television, Cavusoglu warned that Turkey would take further measures if the monument in Yerevan is not removed.

The move comes as Turkey and Armenia, which have no diplomatic relations, had been engaged in talks to normalize ties and put decades of acrimony behind. They appointed special envoys who have held several rounds of talks. Their discussions had resulted in an agreement to resume charter flights between Istanbul and Yerevan.

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The two countries have a more than century-old bitter relationship over the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians in massacres, deportations and forced marches that began in 1915 in Ottoman Turkey.

Historians widely view the event as genocide. Turkey vehemently rejects the label, conceding that many died in that era but insisting that the death toll is inflated and the deaths resulted from civil unrest.

Cavusoglu said the monument aimed “to glorify” Armenians involved in schemes to assassinate Ottoman and Azerbaijani officials in the 1920s and Turkish diplomats in the 1970s and 1980s.

“It is not possible for us to accept this. We can clearly see that their intentions are not good,” Cavusoglu said.

Turkey shut down its border with Armenia in 1993, in a show of solidarity with its close ally Azerbaijan, which was locked in a conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

In 2020, Turkey strongly backed Azerbaijan in the six-week conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, which ended with a Russia-brokered peace deal that saw Azerbaijan gain control of a significant part of the region.

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