YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—An ongoing thaw in Russia’s relations with Turkey is not fraught with any geopolitical dangers for Armenia, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on Friday.
Russian-Turkish relations deteriorated sharply following the downing of a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border by Turkish forces in November 2015. Moscow imposed trade and travel sanctions against Turkey and Russian in retaliation.
The two nations began rapidly mending ties following a recent letter of regret from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the death of the Russian plane’s pilot. Putin highlighted the normalization process when he visited Istanbul and met with Erdogan earlier this week.
The two leaders presided over the signing of an agreement to build a gas pipeline from Russia to Europe. The expensive project was suspended during the Russian-Turkish row.
The renewed Russian-Turkish rapprochement has raised fears among some Armenian pundits and politicians that Russia might cut more deals with Turkey and even Azerbaijan at the expense of Armenia’s interests.
Sergey Glazyev, an economic adviser to Putin, dismissed such speculation, as he spoke in Yerevan during an international conference on “Eurasian partnership.”
“I do realize that this is a sensitive topic in Yerevan,” he said. “But I think concerns that the deepening of Russian-Turkish relations could damage Armenia’s interests are unfounded.”
“Our recently signed agreements with Turkey simply restore projects that had been devised a long time ago,” argued Glazyev. “We are talking about the restoration of normal cooperation and revival of projects that were discontinued for political reasons.”
“I see no reason to think that Armenia’s interests are harmed or Russian-Armenian commercial ties are suffering in any way,” added the Russian official.
Armenia and Turkey have no diplomatic relations and open borders, with Ankara making the normalization of bilateral ties conditional on a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan. Yerevan rejects this precondition.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented on Turkish-Armenian relations on Friday as he accompanied Putin during a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Yerevan. He said Moscow continues to support their unconditional normalization.
“But we have a sense that progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement will be key to the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations,” the TASS news agency quoted Lavrov as telling Russian reporters.
Lavrov also said that Turkey could play a “positive role” in the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process by “unblocking Nagorno-Karabakh.”