In declaring his willingness to work toward normalization of relations with Armenia, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has urged Armenia to recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity as a precondition.
Erdogan was presumably responding to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who on Friday viewed overtures by the Turkish president as “positive” and said “we [Armenia] will evaluate those signals, we will respond to the positive signals with a positive signal.”
Erdogan suggested that joint constructive steps could be taken to ensure sustainable peace and co-existence.
“There is a need for new and constructive approaches in our region. Although there are differences of opinion and expectation, it will be a responsible course of action to make a sincere effort to develop good neighborly relations on the basis of trust, including respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Erdogan told reporters on Sunday, according to Hurriyet Daily News.
“There is a need for new and constructive approaches in our region. Although there are differences of opinion and expectation, it will be a responsible course of action to make a sincere effort to develop good neighborly relations on the basis of trust, including respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” added Erdogan.
He noted that joint constructive steps could be taken to “ensure sustainable peace and co-existence. “
The proposal for a five- or six-country platform, including Turkey, Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran, Armenia, and possibly Georgia, is still on the table, Erdogan said, adding that such a platform could bring relief and possibly solve problems in the region.
The Armenian government had not officially reacted to Erdogan’s remarks on Monday, but a lawmaker from Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party, Maria Karapetian, described it as a “positive message for discussing regional peace.”
“This is just an indirect exchange of public messages,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. Karapetian, who is a member of the parliament committee on foreign relations, said Erdogan’s remarks contained no preconditions unacceptable to the Armenian side.
Opposition lawmakers said Erdogan was continuing to set unacceptable and unrealistic preconditions in order to force Armenia to open its border with Turkey and normalize relations, arguing that Ankara wants Yerevan to agree to Azerbaijan’s control of all of Artsakh.
“Throughout his tenure Erdogan has periodically made such statements and has been rebuffed by the Armenian authorities and told to talk to Armenia, open the border and normalize relations without preconditions. Now Erdogan is coming up with a huge package of preconditions,” Gegham Manukyan of the opposition Armenia Alliance told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Monday
“The current authorities must categorically reject all those preconditions. But judging from their actions and constant readiness to make concessions, I have no such hope,” added Manukyan, who is also member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.