Turkey’s presidential spokesperson has hinted on a TV program at a possible rapprochement with Armenia, the Birgün daily reported on Wednesday.
During an interview with Candaş Tolga Işık, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın noted that Turkey severed diplomatic ties with Armenia and closed its border with the country in 1992 because of the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Now that this problem has been settled, there is no drawback in normalization with Armenia,” he said, adding that there are still some issues that need to be ironed out regarding Nagorno-Karabakh.
Clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, which ended following diplomatic intervention by Russia, resulted in Azerbaijan seizing some of the territories it had lost during a six-year conflict that killed tens of thousands as the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s.
Turkey has supported Muslim-majority Azerbaijan in the decades-long conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory inside Azerbaijan where the population is predominantly ethnic Armenian. The region declared independence in 1991 under the name of the Republic of Artsakh, a state deemed illegitimate by the international community.
Kalın stated that the liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh was an achievement in terms of preservation of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, arguing that Azerbaijan acted responsibly without assuming an aggressive attitude in the process.
“Here, Turkey’s contribution or cooperation has been a good example of our ‘Two states, one nation’ motto,” he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan backed Azerbaijan diplomatically during last year’s conflict, while Armenia’s position was supported by its traditional allies in Europe and the United States. Turkey, which has historically had poor relations with Armenia, has also been a major supplier of weapons to Azerbaijan, including drones that played a decisive role in the war.
Suggesting that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) played a critical role in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Kalın said the TSK has reverted to its primary mission, which, he said, includes cross-border military operations in Syria.
In May, Armenia filed an inter-state complaint against Turkey with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) accusing it of involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by providing assistance to the Azerbaijani armed forces.
On May 20 Erdoğan said Turkey was ready for talks with Armenia but added that Yerevan needed to take steps towards opening a transit corridor that would have to go through Armenia to connect Azerbaijan to its Nakchivan enclave that borders Turkey and Iran.
Armenia and Turkey never re-established diplomatic relations and their shared border has been closed since the 1990s.
Their relationship is strained by the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, atrocities Armenia insists amount to a genocide.
The ties have further deteriorated due to Turkey’s support for its regional ally Azerbaijan, which fought with Armenia last year for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.