Azerbaijan is Turkey’s “red line” in its normalization talks with Armenia

Turkey is coordinating with Azerbaijan on negotiations to normalize its relations with Armenia, Turkish authorities said this week. 

“Azerbaijan has been our red line from the beginning. We have said that we will open our doors after problems with Azerbaijan are solved,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Turkish state television on July 25. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Turkish state television broadcast (Presidency of the Republic of Turkey, July 25)

Talks between Turkey and Armenia to establish bilateral relations have been ongoing since December 2021. On July 1, 2022, special envoys appointed for the normalization process announced the first major breakthrough in negotiations. The envoys 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. 

Turkey-Armenia border near Yereruyk (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Yerevantsi/April 2016)

The Armenia-Turkey border has been closed since 1993, when Turkey closed the border in solidarity with Azerbaijan during the first Artsakh War. In the course of the current negotiations, Armenian authorities have been insistent that the normalization process must remain separate from ongoing talks with Azerbaijan on a resolution of the Artsakh conflict. 

On July 11, in another breakthrough, Erdogan and Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan held their first ever phone conversation, during which they “expressed their expectation for the early implementation” of the agreement to partially reopen the border. 

In his comments this week, Erdogan echoed Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who several days earlier said that talks on normalizing relations between Turkey and Armenia take place in a “tripartite format” with Azerbaijan.

“We coordinate every step with Azerbaijan. Whether Armenia likes it or not, this is the reality. 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,” Cavusoglu told Turkish state television on July 21. 

Erdogan and Cavusoglu also both suggested that Armenia has not taken “concrete steps” toward normalization of relations with Turkey.

“I am glad Pashinyan shares our view on regional peace and partnership. We now expect that apart from making statements Yerevan will take concrete steps in the settlement process,” Erdogan said. “We have the goal of full normalization and establishing good neighborly relations.”  

Cavusoglu blamed the lack of “concrete steps” from Armenia on pressure from the Armenian diaspora and domestic factions.

“We want to see in practice how sincere Armenia is. So far there are messages, and there are explanations. There’s also pressure, it’s true. The diaspora from the outside, fanatic groups from the inside,” Cavusoglu said.

“We don’t yet see clear steps from Armenia on the Zangezur and other projects or the peace treaty,” the Turkish foreign minister added. 

Turkish leaders have reiterated Azerbaijan’s demand for the creation of a Zangezur corridor. The route would connect Azerbaijan to its exclave the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic through Syunik, the southernmost province of Armenia that also borders Iran. 

Civil Contract Party MP and chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign relations Eduard Aghajanyan said Cavusoglu’s statement did not amount to a precondition to the normalization process.

“I think that statement was not a precondition. Turkey has always come out with this position, which obviously had never been acceptable to us,” Aghajanyan told reporters. 

Iranian leaders have been vocal in their opposition to the creation of a Zangezur corridor.

While Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “expressed his satisfaction with Nagorno-Karabakh’s return to Azerbaijan” as a consequence of the 2020 Artsakh War during a meeting with Erdogan in Tehran on July 19, he also warned the Turkish president against blocking the historically significant Armenia-Iran border. 

“If there is an effort to block the border between Iran and Armenia, the Islamic Republic will oppose it because this border has been a communication route for thousands of years,” Khamenei said

Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran Ali Shamkhani previously affirmed Iran’s support of Armenian sovereignty over a route connecting Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan through Syunik during a meeting with Pashinyan in Yerevan on July 7. 

“Ali Shamkhani emphasized that Iran considers any attempt to change the geopolitical situation in the region unacceptable and noted that his country also supports the process of unblocking infrastructure within the framework of preserving the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states,” a statement released by the Armenian prime minister’s office reads

The United States has expressed strong support for the ongoing talks between Armenia and Turkey. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken “welcomed the telephone conversation” between Pashinyan and Erdogan and “expressed the readiness of the US to support the normalization of relations between the two countries” during a phone call with Pashinyan on July 25. 

Meanwhile, Turkish diplomat and special envoy appointed for Armenia-Turkey normalization process Serdar Kılıç visited the Armenia-Turkey border on July 24. Kılıç, accompanied by a delegation of Turkish leaders, visited the city of Kars, the Doğu Kapı border checkpoint and the ruins of Ani. An Israeli company has been conducting demining on the Turkish side of the border, according to Turkish media reports. The Armenian Defense Ministry said that Armenia has not been conducting demining on its side of the border. 

According to a recent report from the International Crisis Group, Armenian authorities want to “press ahead as fast as possible” with the negotiation process, “for fear that history may repeat itself and normalization grind to a halt.” 

“If Ankara can move quicker carrying out its final part of the first agreements on border crossings and air cargo, it will reassure Yerevan that there is more to come,” senior South Caucasus analyst Olesya Vartanyan wrote.

Yet Vartanyan added that Armenia should be patient, considering that even “small agreements on air cargo and border crossings for foreigners are significant” considering the current geopolitical context.

“The Armenian representatives are right to say that they need to seize the moment, as a lack of concrete steps now could doom to failure their hopes for eventual normalization at a time of rising conflict around the world,” Vartanyan wrote. “But a ‘small step’ strategy seems to be the only one possible at the moment.”

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.

16 Comments

  1. Why Georgia pro turkish against armenians while they occupy armenian lands and doesnt give rights armenian minority ?

    • Hey Hagop, are you calling for a war with Georgia to take back the lands? Are you pro-confrontation or pro-peace?

    • For several reasons and among them:
      1. Birds of a feather flock together as they say. In other words, both terrorist Turkey and Azerbaijan, and Georgia together have something in common among them: They are all in occupation of historic Armenian lands. Turkey is in occupation of Western Armenia (90% of Armenian landmass). Azerbaijan is in occupation of Artsakh and surrounding regions. And Georgia is in occupation of Armenian Javakhk and Akhalkalak.

      2. Georgia has been bought and sold by Azerbaijani petrodollars and by Turkish businesses. The energy pipelines carrying oil & gas to Europe through Georgia is a source of revenue for the Georgians. They sold their ancient Armenian neighbor and ally in return for dirty Turkish money. They sold the same Armenians whose royalty and ancient kings (such as the Բագրատունյաց Հարստություն) created and established Georgia in the first place.

      3. Georgians consider Russia as their enemy and especially after the Georgia-Russian war of 2008 which resulted in the loss of territory, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, to the Russians. As a result, they are unfriendly towards any country that is even remotely associated with their Russian enemy and Armenia is one of those countries.

      P.S. In the 2020 war they kept their borders with Armenia closed which effectively means they closed Armenia-Russia transport route but kept their borders and airspace open to Turkey and Azerbaijan to transfer weapons and to transport Syrian ISIS paid-mercenaries to the conflict zone to fight against the Armenians.

  2. There already exist roads through Iranian territory that connect the enemy-occupied Armenian Nakhijevan province to the artificial Azerbaijani cesspool. So the real question is why do terrorist Turkey and criminal artificial Azerbaijan need yet another route through Armenia to connect to Nakhijevan? Because the route making this connection through Iran is strictly controlled by Iranian authorities and the real reason behind these two criminal states wanting yet another route making this connection, perhaps a much more direct and shorter route, through Armenia is to have a direct control of this passage themselves, or by their co-conspirator and our fake “ally” Russia, in order to have the freedom of secretly transferring illegal cargo, such as Turkish weapons to Azerbaijan, as well as having control and military presence in Armenia’s border with Iran to populate the area with Turkish and Azerbaijani criminals for future anti-Armenian activities. Slowly but surely, their ultimate goal is to have full control over Armenia’s southern region which in critical situations will put in jeopardy Armenia’s only reliable outlet to the outside world through Iran and to give terrorist Turkey full access to Central Asia in attempts to establish and materialize terrorist Turkey’s century-old dream of failed and mythical so-called “land of turan”. Islamo-fascist loud-mouth rabid barking dog Er-dog-an has secret schemes on Central Asian energy resources. He wants to monopolize them and use them as blackmail against energy-hungry Europe to dictate his demands to spineless European leaders.

    Don’t be fooled by this “two states, one nation” nonsense because these two fascist states have absolutely nothing in common other than an Armenian enemy and that is what brings them together. Ask yourselves, how can these two criminals be two states one nation when terrorist Turkey is Sunni and the criminal artificial Azerbaijan is Shia which makes them bitter religious enemies since the 7th century (we saw how they were killing each other and destroying each other’s houses of worship in Iraq), one considers the other an apostate (infidel or a kafir/gavur), customs and traditions of artificial Azerbaijan is much more aligned with Iranian and Kurdish customs and traditions, there are more Persian words in the pseudo-Turkish Azerbaijani language than there are Turkish words and their most important holiday on the calendar is Eid Novruz (New Day) which marks the beginning of their new year on March 21st of every year and officially celebrated in Iran, in Kurdish territories, in Afghanistan, in Tajikistan and a few other Central Asian states, but NOT in Turkey other than by Turkey’s Kurdish population. In fact, Novruz is considered “haram” according to Islamic Sharia laws followed by the Sunni sect. Remember, that fabricated phrase is nothing but a euphemism for the destruction of the Armenian statehood. The terrorist leaders of genocidal Turkey are making these things up to justify their direct involvement against our nation. Never ever trust the terrorist leadership of genocidal Turkey and criminal artificial Azerbaijan.

    The mullahs in Iran should not be trusted either. These people and many more like them are hostages to their religion. They won’t speak up against crimes committed by fellow Muslims against non-Muslims no matter how heinous their crimes. Given the historical facts, it is not by any coincidence that no Muslim country in the world, other than Lebanon which is not really a Muslim country but a Muslim majority country, has ever officially recognized terrorist Turkey’s genocide against the Armenians. They won’t antagonize one another and at best they will keep quiet on such matters. Today’s Iranian government is filled with Persian-speaking pseudo-Turks and Iran’s Khamenei is one of them. He is another two-faced LIAR like their former double-talking foreign minister Zarif who congratulated our enemy for the 2020 terroristic war and right after the war on his first visit to Baku to drum up multi-billion dollar reconstruction business with terrorist coward KGB MAFIA Aliyev regime. Whatever they may say or do that sounds remotely anti-Turkish and falsely pro-Armenian rest-assured it is for their own self-interest. Remember, our two Turkish and pseudo-Turkish enemies have secret schemes on Iranian territory as well and it so happens that Armenia acts as a wall physically keeping apart those two criminal states minimizing, if not totally eliminating, their joint threat on Iranian Northwest. They draw a red-line when it comes to terrorist Turkish and Azerbaijani activities in southern region of Armenia bordering Iran that threatens their sovereignty yet they congratulate our despicable enemies for the reoccupation of liberated Armenian territories in the 2020 terroristic war.

  3. Insulting would be the most complimentary term to describe the Turkish comments. Their arrogance and obvious lack of respect for Armenia is absurd. This dialogue was touted as without “preconditions”. Now the Turks declare perhaps the biggest precondition possible…Azerbaijan. Oh but that doesn’t count according to both parties because it has always been their position. Fine…perhaps Armenia should use the same logic and insist on Turkey recognizing the genocide….since it has always been our position.
    Suspend these talks now until they become a dialogue …not a demand for surrender.

    • Turks are only arrogant because they are supported by isreal. This is the only source of their position of power.

  4. There should not be any peace talks with Azers or Turks. They only accept weak Armenia. Nothing else works for them. Azers need to know that their good life can end because they have oil. The oil can be a blessing and a curse. They need to know that pushing Armenia is futile. Unfortunately Armenia is being lead by puppets of world govt.

    • You quite right about what you said about Turkey wanting a weak Armenia, that Armenia is being controlled by puppets that are following other kind of agenda, a globalist agenda in which small and not so small countries will surrender their sovereignty for the “greater good”, and in doing so, they will be lose their national identity, is such a sad thing that this globalist government that Armenia has is willing to shake hands and give concessions to their enemy… such a disgrace, they saw that an offensive was coming along the Artsakh front and did nothing to prevent, or at least be more prepared. Let’s see what the future days will bring to Armenia and it’s people.

  5. Turkey has failed to take concrete steps to normalize relations with Armenia without preconditions as agreed previously. It shows that Erdogan is not serious about it. Also, Erdogan is a puppet of Aliev.

  6. We learned what Turkey’s red line is, okay, what is Armenia’s red line? Pashinyan-the loser does not impose any red lines. I think Pashinyan’s desire for peace is really a desire to keep his power; he knows what will happen if he loses the power. If he really wanted peace he would stop the war before 1000’s of our boys perished.

    • Pashinian is the representative of the global government. Turkey is given green light by isreal who is hiding under this global govt to turn the entire area to a muslim state in that region.

    • Would you have been willing to give up land to save the lives of 1000s of soldiers? Armenians across the world would have lost it even more.

    • Im bloody sure if he had stopped the war before he did and given up some land for peace, you would still call him a traitor who didn’t fight to the end.

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