Pashinyan and Erdogan hold first ever phone call

Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (RA Prime Minister’s office)

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held their first ever phone conversation on Monday.

The leaders “expressed their expectation for the early implementation of the agreements reached during the meeting between the special representatives of their countries on July 1,” according to near identical statements released by the offices of the Armenian PM and Turkish President. They also “emphasized the importance they attach to the bilateral normalization process between their respective countries which will also contribute to the strengthening of peace and stability in the region.”

The phone call follows another breakthrough in the ongoing negotiations to normalize Turkey-Armenia relations. On July 1, the special envoys appointed for the normalization process agreed to “enable the crossing of the land border between Armenia and Turkey by third-country citizens.” They also agreed to commence direct air cargo trade between the two countries. The Turkish-Armenian border would open to travel and air cargo trade “at the earliest possible date.” 

The near-identical statement on partially opening the border was released by the Armenian and Turkish Foreign Ministries following the fourth meeting of Ruben Rubinyan and Serdar Kılıç. Rubinyan, the deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, and Kılıç, the former Turkish ambassador to the United States, had shared few details after their three previous meetings beyond affirming the goal of normalizing bilateral relations and reiterating their commitment to continuing the process without preconditions. 

Pashinyan expressed his hope that the process of opening the border would take place “as soon as possible” during a July 7 cabinet meeting. 

“It is very important that our departments work with the relevant departments in Turkey, because a political agreement is important, but their implementation depends on that work. I expect that we work in a coordinated way so that we can implement the agreements reached as soon as possible,” Pashinyan said

Armenia-Turkey border (Wikimedia Commons)

Economy Minister Vahan Kerobyan said that opening the border would have a positive impact on Armenia’s economy during a press briefing after the cabinet meeting.

“After the opening of the border, Armenia will turn from a dead end into a crossroads. Naturally, as a result of this, we will have very large economic effects,” Kerobyan said

Turkish exports to Armenia have far exceeded Armenian exports to Turkey. In 2019, Turkey exported $255 million to Armenia, as compared to $4.86 million from Armenia to Turkey, according to the Observatory for Economic Complexity. 

Armenia’s borders with neighboring Turkey have been closed since the 1990s. The current negotiations mark the third effort within the past three decades to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The initial round of talks began in 1992 amid the first Artsakh War. In April 1993, Turkey withdrew from the negotiations in response to the capture of the Kelbajar district by Armenian forces and closed its border with Armenia. 

In 2009, the countries signed two bilateral protocols brokered by France, Russia and the United States. The Zurich Protocols would have opened the border, established diplomatic relations and created a joint historical commission to study the Armenian Genocide. However, the protocols were never ratified or implemented under pressure from Azerbaijan, which opposed normalization of relations without a resolution of the Artsakh conflict.

In December 2021, following the appointment of Rubinyan and Kılıç as special envoys for bilateral talks, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said that Azerbaijan “fully supports” normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia. 

Armenian authorities have been insistent that the ongoing negotiations with Turkey must remain separate from talks with Azerbaijan on a resolution of the Artsakh conflict. 

However, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan previously raised concerns that Turkey might “synchronize” the negotiation process with talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan. 

“At the moment, I can only say that, unfortunately, no matter how much the process is said to continue without preconditions, our Turkish partners, to a certain extent, synchronize it with the relations developing between Armenia and Azerbaijan. They make it part of their narrative,” Mirzoyan said while addressing the National Assembly on May 20. 

That same day, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that the Armenian government is “under pressure” from opposition groups skeptical of the negotiation process. 

“We can see that the Armenian authorities are under pressure from radical forces at home and the [Armenian] Diaspora abroad. We have told Antony Blinken and our other partners that Armenia needs to be encouraged more on this issue,” Çavuşoğlu told the press. 

On July 1, the same day that Armenia and Turkey announced the impending opening of the border, the Azerbaijan State Border Service shared that it was closing the 13-kilometer border between Turkey and Azerbaijan’s exclave Nakhichevan. 

The narrow strip is currently Azerbaijan’s sole open border with Turkey, since Azerbaijan’s borders with Georgia, Iran and Russia have been closed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Azerbaijani authorities cited the pandemic as the justification for the border closure, stating that on June 20 the Cabinet of Ministers had decided to extend the “quarantine regime” until September 1, 2022. However, the initial announcement regarding the extension of the coronavirus quarantine had not referenced Azerbaijan’s border with Turkey. 

Azerbaijani activist Giyas Ibrahim attributed the decision to Azerbaijan’s discontent with the positive progress in the Armenia-Turkey normalization process.

Aliyev “couldn’t stand the softening between Turkey and Armenia, so he shut the border, just like he increased the gas price for Turkey in 2008,” Ibrahim wrote on Facebook. 

Yerevan-based analyst Richard Giragosian said that there is an “unavoidable synergy or indirect relationship” between Armenia’s parallel negotiations with Turkey and Azerbaijan.

“Armenia is now engaged in complicated and complex twin-track diplomacy: pursuing negotiations with Azerbaijan and a process to normalize relations with Turkey,” Giragosian wrote in an article for the Institute for War & Peace Reporting. 

He said that the closure of the Turkey-Azerbaijan border is “bound to make Ankara nervous.” 

“Turkey will continue to be cautious and will not take any step that Azerbaijan could perceive as against their interests,” Giragosian wrote. 

Results of a survey published in January 2022 found that a majority of residents of Armenia support restoration of diplomatic relations with Turkey, as long as critical national interests are not conceded.

The poll by the US-based International Republican Institute found that 73-percent of respondents believe that Armenia should simultaneously pursue a dialogue with Turkey while seeking its recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Seventy percent support preconditions to the normalization of bilateral relations, including Turkey’s non-interference in the Artsakh peace process. 

While 44-percent of respondents feel that Armenia should not pursue normalization of relations with Turkey under any circumstances, 53-percent disagree with this statement.

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is a staff writer for the Armenian Weekly. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hetq and the Daily Californian. She is pursuing master’s degrees in Journalism and Near Eastern Studies at New York University. A human rights journalist and feminist poet, Lillian's first poetry collection Journey to Tatev was released with Girls on Key Press in spring of 2021.
Lillian Avedian

@LillianAvedian

Graduate student @GloJo_NYU and @nyukevo. Staff writer @armenianweekly. Editorial intern @DAWN_Journal. She/her.
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9 Comments

  1. First “official” phone call, maybe. But Pashinyan, being a Turkish secret service agent just like Omega Arabat and the rest of Civil Contract, has no doubt spoken with Erdogan many times over years.

  2. What possible positive outcome can anyone expect from a phone call between the unpatriotic and defeatist Armenian leader and the genocide denier Islamo-fascist terrorist leader of criminal Turkey? None of course! Whenever there is any kind of deal made between the incompetent and dysfunctional Armenian leadership and the leadership of terrorist Turkey rest-assured Armenia and the Armenian people will suffer. If you think Turkey will come to any kind of agreement over any issue that will even remotely be beneficial to Armenia then you should see a shrink ASAP! We were witness to Turkish trickery back in 2009 and during the so-called football diplomacy when they officially, and in front of the whole world, agreed to the opening of borders unconditionally but reneged on the agrrement soon after and put preconditions for the ratification of this agreement in favor of our enemy next door the pseudo-Turkish artificial Azerbaijan. Simply put, they can never be trusted. I have no doubt they must have known in advance that artificial Azerbaijan would throw a temper tantrum about this agreement but they went ahead with it anyway because their TRUE intention was to cleverly but cunningly to portray themselves to the world as reconciliatory towards Armenia in order to throw the definite and official Armenian Genocide recognition by the United States of course at the time. In hindsight, the failure of the agreement turned out to be a blessing for the Armenian nation and a victory for the Armenian people worldwide.

    It was not Armenia that closed borders with Turkey in 1993. It was the terrorist Turkish leadership that did so, with no provocations whatsoever from Armenia towards Turkey, and under the disguise of support for their pseudo-Turkish Azerbaijani criminal collaborator but in reality they did so for cheap Caspian oil and multi-billion dollar investment projects transporting Caspian oil & gas to Europe. Opening of the borders is a Turkish problem and not an Armenian one. They closed it so they should be the ones opening it. But as usual, they make it an Armenian problem so they can get concessions on various fronts from the naïve and unpatriotic Armenian leadership. I also have no doubt that any secret concessions that Armenia makes will be tied to Artsakh issue as well. If these two terrorist Turkish and pseudo-Turkish Azerbaijani criminal states, having absolutely nothing in common other than an Armenian enemy, can falsely and cunningly refer to each other as “two states, one nation”, a euphemism for the destruction of the Armenian statehood, rest-assured they are both in on this scheme.

    What does opening land borders between the two countries to enable the crossing of “third-country” citizens even mean? This is preposterous and humiliating. This is not any kind of “peace” agreement between Armenia and Turkey at all. This is a way of turning Armenian territory into a convenient transit route for citizens of other countries to increase Turkish trade and tourism. As stated in this article and despite closed borders, if the 2019 trade figures are any indication of future trades (98% Turkish exports to Armenia vs 2% Armenian exports to Turkey) we can safely assume this FALSE “peace” agreement benefits Turkey only.

    • They should have quietly reopened it without fanfare. If you remember, when it was closed it was done very quickly, no delay, no meetings.

  3. Hey Armenian‘s of the world get used to calling yourself gypsies also known as people without the land.
    Because in two or three years there will not be any Armenians left in Armenia

  4. Hello Ararat,
    In my humble opinion, crossings of third ” country citizens “, as you put it, means, Erdogan will soon open the flood gates, and let Syrian refugees, Turk ISIS mercenaries, Uyghur refugees, and other unwanted thugs to enter Armenia, and establish permanent residency around less inhabited provinces illegally , to further Erdogan’s future land grabbing ambitions without firing a shot. These 560,000 nomads who voted for, Baboon Pashinyan , will soon join their long lost ancestors. Happy days are ahead awaiting you, Makunts.

    • Hi Jay,
      I agree with you because anything and everything is expected of this opportunist Islamo-fascist Turkish terrorist and loud mouth rabid barking dog Er-dog-an. He already has brought and settled ISIS terrorists in Armenian territories reoccupied in the last terroristic war which his criminal defense ministry planned, provoked and conducted on behalf of the filthy leadership of pseudo-Turkish artificial Azerbaijan. They all must be wiped out. Anything is possible from these Turkish and pseudo-Turkish fascist leaders. They have already Turkified several border regions of Georgia over the last few decades by enticing them with lucrative businesses and revenues from oil & gas pipelines going through Georgian territory. I’m convinced by doing so they wanted to further blockade Armenia and open another front against our homeland. These are some of the many reasons why we need a TRUE patriot in charge of the Armenian government instead of the current incompetent, defeatist, dysfunctional and treasonous sorry excuse for a leader. We need someone who will put the interests and the security of the homeland above all else. Someone who understands how the tricky racist enemy thinks and will take action and put laws in place to avoid all of the things you mentioned. We also need a very strong, dedicated and sophisticated intelligence services agency that will make a priority vetting and scrutinizing very closely any and all movements into the country by groups and individuals associated with these two terrorist cesspools. These two are the traditional enemies of our nation and state and must never be trusted.

      Genocide denier Er-dog-an’s two famous remarks:
      1. Democracy is like a train: when you reach your destination, you get off.
      2. The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.

  5. Basically, it comes down to this: Armenian PM Pashinyan spoke confidently in 2019; then he was defeated in the 2020 Karabakh War; in the years after the 2020 War, PM Pashinyan shows the weak resolve of a defeated leader, he’s a beaten man who caves into enemy demands, in the hope that what’s left will be spared. B

    asically, PM Pashinyan is crippled by defeat, and more harmful than helpful. It would be best to replace him, but doesn’t seem to be happening.

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