Armenia says ready for talks with Turkey on mending ties

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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Wednesday that Armenia was prepared to hold discussions on repairing relations with Turkey, a longstanding foe of the ex-Soviet country, Agence France-Presse reported.

Armenia and Turkey never established diplomatic ties and their shared border has been closed since the 1990s.

Their relationship is strained by WWI-era mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, atrocities Armenia insists amount to a genocide.

It has deteriorated more recently over Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan, which fought a brief but brutal war with Armenia last year for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Pashinyan said Wednesday that recent comments from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s represented an “opportunity for a conversation on settling relations.”

“We stand ready for such a discussion,” he told a cabinet meeting.

Erdoğan said last month that Ankara was willing to work towards normalizing ties with Armenia if Yerevan “declares its readiness to move in this direction.”

Armenia and Turkey’s ally Azerbaijan fought a six-week war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which claimed some 6,500 lives.

Russia brokered a ceasefire that saw Yerevan cede swathes of territory it had controlled for decades.

Pashinyan on Wednesday stressed the importance of opening regional transport links, saying “it is about transforming our region into a crossroad linking west and east and north and south.”

In 2009, Armenia and Turkey signed an agreement to normalize relations, which would have led to the opening up of their shared border.

Yerevan has never ratified the agreement and in 2018 ditched the process.

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