YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–President Robert Kocharian could meet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan later this month to discuss ways of normalizing relations between Armenia and Turkey–his spokesman’said on Monday.
Victor Soghomonian–the presidential press secretary–did not deny a Turkish newspaper report saying that the two leaders plan to follow up on their high-profile exchange of letters which was sparked by worldwide commemorations of the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey. But he added that "there are no concrete agreemen’s yet" on the venue and date of their meeting.
Citing sources in Erdogan’s office–the "Zaman" daily reported on Sunday that the meeting is likely to take place in Warsaw on the sidelines of a summit of Council of Europe member states scheduled for May 15-16.
A government source in Yerevan confirmed that the likelihood of the meeting between is great.
Armenian and Turkish leaders have had sporadic face-to-face encounters in the past but made no progress towards the improvement of bilateral ties. The first-ever talks between Kocharian and Erdogan would inevitably address the latter’s calls for the creation of a Turkish-Armenian commission of historians that would look into the 1915-1918 mass killings of Armenia’s and determine if they constituted a genocide.
Kocharian turned down the offer–saying Ankara should instead drop preconditions for establishing diplomatic relations with Yerevan and opening the Turkish-Armenian border. He also suggested that the two governmen’s set up a commission that would tackle all issues of mutual concern.
Reacting to Kocharian’s letter–Erdogan said the lifting of the Turkish embargo is conditional on an end to the Armenian campaign for international recognition of the genocide.