Armenia foreign minister in Turkey for rare talks to normalize relations

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Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan travelled Wednesday to arch-foe Turkey for rare talks with his Turkish counterpart, officials in Yerevan said, as the two countries seek to normalize relations after decades of animosity.

At loggerheads since Armenia gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the neighboring nations have never established formal diplomatic relations.

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On Wednesday, Mirzoyan “arrived in Ankara for talks with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu,” the Armenian foreign ministry spokesman Vahan Hunanyan told AFP.

It will be Mirzoyan’s second visit to Turkey since March 2022 when he held talks with Cavusoglu on the sidelines of a diplomatic forum in Antalya.

On Saturday, a border crossing between Armenia and Turkey opened for the first time in 35 years, to allow humanitarian aid through after a massive earthquake hit the region.

“Minister Mirzoyan will be also meeting with Armenian rescuers who are carrying out search and rescue operations in Turkey’s earthquake-affected city of Adiyaman,” Hunanyan said.

Turkey-Armenia ties are strained by World War I-era mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, atrocities Yerevan insists amount to a genocide.

But in December 2021, the two countries appointed special envoys to help normalize relations – a year after Armenia lost to Turkey’s ally Azerbaijan in a war for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Turkey fiercely rejects the genocide label, arguing that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian troops.

In February 2022, Turkey and Armenia resumed their first commercial flights in two years.

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

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