ANKARA — Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan paid a visit to Turkey on Feb. 15 and held talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu in Ankara to express his country’s solidarity with the people of Turkey. Mirzoyan also visited Adiyaman, one of the quake-hit provinces where the Armenian teams are delivering humanitarian aid. A second convoy full of aid arrived in the city on Feb. 15.

Armenia’s assistance to victims of the devastating earthquake in Turkey could facilitate the normalization of relations between the two neighboring states, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said after holding talks with his visiting Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan on Wednesday.

“Armenia has extended its hand of friendship, showed solidarity and cooperation with us in this difficult time … We need to continue this solidarity,” Cavusoglu told a joint news conference in Ankara with Mirzoyan.

“The normalization process in the South Caucasus region is going on. We believe that our cooperation in the humanitarian field will support this process,” he added, according to Reuters.

In that regard, Cavusoglu pointed not only to ongoing efforts to improve Turkish-Armenian relations but also Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.

FM Mirzoyan said that Armenia is not unfamiliar with the sorrow which befell upon thousands of families in Turkey as a result of the devastating earthquake, because the Armenian people faced the same tragedy in 1988.

“I once again express condolences to the families of the many thousands of victims of the devastating earthquake, the people and government of Turkey, and I wish swift recovery to all those injured,” the Armenian Foreign Minister said during the press conference.

“One of the bitterest pages of the history of my nation is the devastating Spitak earthquake of 1988, and today the sorrow which befell upon thousands of families in Turkey is not unfamiliar to us. Such natural disasters and their volumes go beyond the borders of countries, becoming global tragedies. And the world must act with a united front to overcome them. I believe that the international community must not remain indifferent towards any humanitarian crisis happening anywhere around the globe. And it was by this very principle that immediately after the devastating earthquake the government of Armenia made a decision to send rescuers and humanitarian aid to Turkey. I thank Mr. Cavusoglu for his words of appreciation addressed to our rescuers and overall the Armenian presence and support. I am very happy that our rescuers were able to save lives in cooperation with their partners,” the Armenian Foreign Minister said.

FM Mirzoyan said it is very meaningful that the Armenian-Turkish land border, which is closed for over 30 years, was opened on February 11 for the Armenian humanitarian aid. “The same happened yesterday evening and in a few hours another batch of humanitarian aid will reach Adiyaman,” Mirzoyan said.

Turkey and Armenia are running a process for normalizing the relationship after more than a 30 year-long incommunicado due to the latter’s occupation of Azerbaijani lands in Nagorno-Karabakh region. The two sides launched talks to establish normal ties after the Armenia-Azerbaijan war in 2020 which ended with the victory of the Azeri troops.

“This understanding of cooperation can contribute to our ongoing normalization process,” Cavusoglu said, citing mutual efforts to establishing diplomatic ties and opening the borders. “We have agreed to take steps to accelerate the normalization,” he said, informing that the two sides will cooperate for the reconstruction of bridges and roads connecting the two sides.

Cavusoglu said they have also reviewed the general situation in the southern Caucasus and the ongoing talks between Baku and Yerevan for a lasting and comprehensive peace agreement. “A lasting peace in the southern Caucasus will not only contribute to the regional economy but will also play a role in connecting Asia and Europe through the east-west corridor whose importance increased after the pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war,” he stated.

For his part, Mirzoyan underlined the need for international solidarity and cooperation in responding to such big disasters and his government wanted to help Turkey in line with this principle. “I want to thank you for your commending words,” the Armenian minister told Cavusoglu.

“Our talks today were about the disaster but by being here in the difficult times of Turkey, I want to confirm our readiness and will for building peace in the region, for full normalization and opening the borders between Turkey and Armenia,” he said.

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