ANKARA (Reuters) – Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan is due to visit Turkey in March, his Turkish counterpart said on Thursday, as neighbors scramble to restore ties after decades of animosity.
Turkey has had no diplomatic or trade relations with its eastern neighbor since the 1990s. The two disagree on several issues, primarily the 1.5 million people Armenia says were killed by the forces. Ottomans in 1915.
Earlier this month, Turkey and Armenia said a first round of talks in more than a decade between the envoys on normalizing relations was “positive and constructive”, raising the possibility that relations could be restored and the borders reopened.
Armenia says the 1915 killings constitute genocide. Turkey admits that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War I, but disputes the figures and denies that the killings were systematic or constitute genocide.
Tensions erupted again in a 2020 war over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey has accused ethnic Armenian forces of occupying land belonging to Azerbaijan. Turkey has since called for a rapprochement as it seeks greater regional influence.
Speaking in Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan responded positively to Turkey’s invitation to the Antalya Diplomatic Forum (ADF), scheduled for March 11-13, and that the normalization process was continuing with confidence-building measures.
“Armenian Foreign Minister and Special Envoy Ruben Rubinyan were invited, and Pashinyan finally said they could participate in the ADF,” Cavusoglu said.
“We would welcome that, because Azerbaijan is also coming. So let Azerbaijan express its views and Armenia express its opinions too, and that can be part of the confidence-building measures,” he added.
The talks this month were the first attempt to restore ties since a 2009 peace deal. That deal was never ratified and relations have remained strained.
In December, Ankara and Yerevan appointed special envoys to lead normalization talks. Cavusoglu said the envoys would decide when the next round of talks would take place and where they would be held.
Ankara has said it wants the talks to be held in Turkey or Armenia, after the first round is held in Moscow.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Ece Toksabay and)