YEREVAN — The first round of talks between Armenia and Turkey was actually an opening stage, where the parties get acquainted with each other, hold discussions on technical issues and an atmosphere is being shaped, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said during an online press conference on Monday.

“The fact that the parties stated after the meeting that they have agreed to continue the discussions without preconditions essentially diffuses the tension and negative atmosphere around the process,” he noted.

Asked whether diplomatic relations could be established this year, PM Pashinyan said he cannot make predictions, “because it does not depend on us only.”

“It will be very logical if we achieve these goals – establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of borders. There is a lot of analysis, the process is in the focus of attention of the international community,” he said, adding that “if the process drags out without concrete results, it will turn into something usual, which both the parties and the international community will lose the interest in.”

According to him, The growth in the Armenian-Turkish trade turnover will have a positive impact on Armenia’s economy, saying also it is necessary to develop a policy that will boost Armenian exports.

“If we want to have a serious economy, relying on the domestic market is not the way to develop it. We need export markets. And if our potential export markets are closed and we also close our market in response, Armenia will not benefit from that,” he said.

“I think the main question is as follows: are Armenia and Turkey sincerely interested in normalizing relations without preconditions?” PM Pashinyan said.

He reiterated the sincerity of the Armenian government, and noted that all previous governments have had the same stance and have been sincere in their position.

Answering a question about sudden resignation of President Armen Sarkissian, Pashinyan said that Armenia’s parliament controlled by his Civil Contract party should elect a new president of the republic who will be in sync with his administration.

Pashinyan said that Sarkissian phoned him and informed him about the surprise decision just a few hours before announcing it. He said he “took note” of it and will not comment on the reason for the resignation given by the head of state.

Pashinyan said that he and his political team have not yet discussed potential candidates for the job. He indicated that they will pick a figure loyal to them.

“I think that we must go for a solution that will ensure political harmony between the president, the government and the parliament majority, especially now that we are faced with very serious challenges,” he told a virtual news conference aired by Armenian Public Television.


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