ANKARA — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday made the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations conditional on Armenia negotiating a peace accord with Azerbaijan and opening a land corridor to its Nakhichevan exclave.
“Turkey and Azerbaijan are coordinating their positions in ongoing efforts to normalize relations with Armenia”, Çavusoglu said in a wide-ranging interview with state broadcaster TRT Haber.
“We started the process with Armenia in a bilateral format, but we should not forget that it is actually a tripartite format,” Çavusoglu said. “We coordinate every step with Azerbaijan. Whether Armenia wants it or not, that is the reality.”
Çavusoglu complained that Yerevan has taken no “concrete steps” in that direction after four rounds of Turkish-Armenian normalization talks held this year.
“We don’t yet see clear steps from Armenia on the Zangezur [corridor] and other projects or the peace treaty,” he told Turkish state television. “Armenia’s leadership headed by Prime Minister Pashinyan should take positive steps for peace. Words alone are not enough.”
“Whether Armenia likes it or not, this is the reality,” he said, pointing to the Turkish-Azerbaijani alliance. “We are one nation and two states. That is why if there is to be peace in the region, everybody needs to take steps, including Georgia and Central Asian countries. We expect concrete steps from Armenia on this issue, be it Zangezur, the comprehensive peace treaty or steps towards us.”
The Armenian government has said, by contrast, that it wants an unconditional normalization of relations with Turkey. Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan complained in May that Ankara is “synchronizing” the normalization process with Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.
Meeting in Vienna on July 1, special envoys of the two neighboring states agreed to open the Turkish-Armenian border to citizens of third countries and to allow mutual cargo shipments by air. The Turkish and Armenian foreign ministries said this will be done “at the earliest date possible.” But they set no concrete time frames.