The governments of Armenia and Turkey have appointed their respective representatives to start negotiations between the two countries. This follows months of reports about positive signals from both sides. The American press also reports that President Joe Biden personally called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to open the border with Armenia. It is believed that European countries, led by France were making considerable efforts behind the curtains, to achieve a Yerevan-Ankara dialogue.
Therefore, it was not surprising when the news of the appointment of the envoys and the upcoming meeting between them was announced. The United States and France immediately welcomed the steps taken to start a dialogue between the two neighboring states. Russia, too, has spoken on various occasions about the importance of such positive moves.
As of yet, there is no information about the agendas to be discussed, but the opening of the borders by Turkey has been the main issue that is often mentioned.
As in the case of the “Armenian-Turkish Protocols” signed in 2009, there are still differences of opinion in Armenia and the Diaspora based on historical events, which continue to remain in the collective memory of our people. There is an opinion that any dialogue with the Turkish side should be completely ruled out, as it can bring no benefit to Armenia. There is an argument, that with the opening of the borders, the Armenian markets will be flooded with Turkish goods, the import of which is currently banned in light of Turkey’s participation in the recent Artsakh war. The opposite view is that we are geographically within a region where we are surrounded by enemies with whom we must find common grounds, not only on the prospects of Armenia’s economic development, but also on attaining some security guarantees.
The Armenian government insists that the dialogue with Turkey must take place without preconditions. In the past, attempts for such dialogue have failed when the Turkish side, after the preliminary agreements, began to put forward preconditions, the most important of which was stopping the worldwide campaign for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and conceding of Nagorno Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. These issues can be brought to the table once again at any point in the forthcoming negotiations, adding to them the demand to provide a land corridor passing through the “Zangezur” region of Armenia, and connecting Azerbaijan to Nakhitchevan.
Today, Turkey is in dire economic straits. The Turkish currency continues to fall in value and the wave of discontent among the ordinary citizens is rising day by day. Ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for spring of 2023, Erdogan is under enormous pressure to stabilize the situation. To do that, he needs western economic support and investments. These facts can also affect the behavior of the Turkish side, given that the international community attaches great importance to the opening of the last closed border on the european continent.
Upon the urgings of the western countries, Armenia should show its goodwill and not be afraid of talking with its enemies to see how far the negotiations can go. Any precondition from the Turkish side should be outright rejected putting an end to the talks, which could harm Turkey and the Erdogan regime, more than it will hurt Armenia.