YEREVAN — Turkey sets new conditions for normalizing its relations with Armenia, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirozyan said in a recent interview with the French Le Figaro daily that was published this week.
Talking to the newspaper during his recent visit to Paris on November 11, Mirzoyan stressed that Armenia has always supported normalization of relations with Turkey without preconditions and is ready for that now despite the “huge Turkish support” for Azerbaijan in the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“We have received positive signals from Turkey to reopen the dialogue, but it remains complicated. Ankara sets new conditions. Among them is a “corridor” connecting Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan,” the top Armenian diplomat said in the interview the transcript of which the Armenian Foreign Ministry released on November 20.
Unblocking all transport links in the region is part of a Russia-brokered ceasefire that stopped the 44-day fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh last year. This includes Azerbaijan’s access to its Nakhichevan exclave via Armenian territory.
In the post-war talks Baku appears to have insisted on the exterritorial status of the future road that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev calls the “Zangezur corridor”.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has rejected the “corridor logic” for unblocking transport routes in the region.
Foreign Minister Mirzoyan also told the French daily that the demand for what Azerbaijan seeks as an exterritorial corridor cannot be a subject of discussion.
“States must allow transit while maintaining sovereignty over their territory. All transport links in the region must be reopened,” Mirzoyan added.
Turkey has long been a key regional ally of Azerbaijan and has kept its border with Armenia closed for nearly three decades, due to what it said was Armenia’s occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts.
The Armenian foreign minister also said that the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh remained tense.
“Over the past year Azerbaijan has committed about 30 serious violations of the ceasefire, as a result of which there have been casualties on the Armenian side. Civilians have also been killed. Nevertheless, Armenia is making every effort to establish lasting peace in the region. However, in order for this process to be effective, these efforts must be bilateral,” Mirzoyan said.
Mirzoyan stressed that Armenia is ready to hand over to Azerbaijan all the maps of minefields in the region that it has its disposal. However, he said, Azerbaijan, “despite having an obligation, does not release Armenian prisoners of war.”
“While we talk about peace, Azerbaijan multiplies xenophobic statements. This is evidenced by the speeches of the president of Azerbaijan, the “Trophy Park” that was opened in Baku last spring, where Armenians are presented in a humiliated and ridiculed way,” the Armenian foreign minister said.
Mirzoyan also stressed the need for resuming talks under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. “Certainly, the issue of the final settlement of the conflict remains on the agenda. But at this stage we have agreed to go forward by taking small steps, such as to secure the release of prisoners of war and access of international organizations, including UNESCO, to Nagorno-Karabakh for humanitarian purposes,” Mirzoyan said.