Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is paying a one-day visit to Yerevan today to attend the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) meeting, making him the highest-level Turkish official to visit Armenia since 2009.
Although a bilateral meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian was not scheduled as of late afternoon on Dec. 11, Turkish diplomats underlined that they would have no hesitation in holding talks with their host if they received an invitation from Armenia.
“Former Foreign Minister Ali Babacan visited Yerevan in 2009 to attend the BSEC summit. And he held a meeting with his Armenian counterpart then,” Turkish diplomats recalled.
At the time, Turkey and Armenia signed two protocols to normalize their relations and open the sealed borders, but neither succeeded in accomplishing the process for different reasons. Turkey’s current position vis-à-vis Armenia is to wait for its eastern neighbor to resolve its problems with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenia’s potential and partial withdrawal from occupied Nagorno-Karabakh would accelerate the normalization process of Armenia with both Turkey and Azerbaijan.
Meetings between Azeri and Armenian officials over the last two months boosted hopes for a meaningful negotiation process to restart between the two countries. This latest set of Azeri-Armenian talks made Davutoğlu more willing to attend the BSEC meeting in Yerevan.
The Turkish foreign minister’s decision to go to Yerevan was welcomed by the United States and leading European countries. According to information gathered by the Hürriyet Daily News, European and American diplomats deemed Davutoğlu’s visit and potential bilateral meeting a very promising move. They also advised Armenia “not to miss the opportunity” created by the visit.
However, Turkish diplomats did note that this visit should not be regarded as a new opening toward Armenia.
“We are emphasizing and reiterating our call for a stable, prosperous South Caucasus. We always underline that we have no prejudices towards Armenia,” the diplomats said.
They underlined that Davutoğlu’s attendence at the BSEC meeting was another indication of Turkey’s intention to build regional cooperation, and Armenia was certainly a part of this sphere.