Davutoğlu’s Yerevan visit may be prelude for normalization talks
Armenia’s Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian speaks at the EU-Armenia Cooperation Council, at the European Council building in Brussels, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)Officials in Ankara have cautioned against high expectations for Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s upcoming visit by to estranged neighbor Armenia, but indicated that there was a chance for “normalization” to follow in the future.
Even if it does not yield any concrete outcomes, the trip will still mark a watershed, as it will be Davutoğlu’s first visit to Yerevan since the failure of efforts to normalize ties four years ago.
The Dec. 12 visit will take place on the occasion of a meeting of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), so is not a bilateral initiative. However, it is still attracting attention as it will be the first meeting since October 2009, when moves to open diplomatic ties and reopen the border failed.
Turkish officials, speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News on Dec. 9, said it was still not clear whether Davutoğlu and his Armenian counterpart, Edward Nalbandian, would hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the BSEC gathering.
“We are not going there with a specific proposal,” a senior Turkish diplomat told the Daily News, in an apparent reference to several news reports in the Turkish media suggesting that Turkey would offer a proposal to the Armenian side in exchange for reopening the border. “Furthermore, such a proposal would also be premature and wrong,” added the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“However, if such a bilateral meeting takes place, we will explain our vision with regard to regional peace, including normalization of our bilateral relations. Then, the steps that could be taken may come on the scene,” he said. Meanwhile, officials also said Davutoğlu had no plans to visit a monument dedicated to the memory of victims of mass killings of Anatolian Armenians during World War I, while on the visit to Yerevan.
“The minister is going to Yerevan within the framework of a BSEC meeting. Visiting the monument is not on his agenda,” the diplomat said.
The need for such an explanation came from reported remarks by Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan, who recently recommended that Davutoğlu “visit the Armenian Genocide Memorial to pay a silent tribute to the memory of the victims.”