YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia has opened a permanent representation at the Istanbul headquarters of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization–its first-ever diplomatic mission in Turkey–the foreign ministry announced Saturday.
The opening ceremony took place on Thursday in the presence of senior officials from several BSEC member states–including Azerbaijan–and representatives of Turkey’s Armenian community–the ministry said. Arsen Avagian–a career diplomat mission–was named to head the mission last September.
The BSEC is a loose grouping of 11 countries–including Armenia–Turkey and Russia–formed in 1992 with the aim of promoting economic cooperation across the vast geographical area. But it has so far been largely ineffectual.
Armenia’s participation in the BSEC’s work is hampered by the absence of diplomatic relations with Turkey. The latter has made their establishment conditional on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict out of solidarity with its Turkic ally Azerbaijan. Ankara also refuses to open its land border with Armenia despite numerous calls by the European Union and the United States.
Avagian was quoted as saying that the opening of the BSEC representation testifies to Armenia’s strong interest in "the multilateral processes" going on within the BSEC framework.