The United States supports steps taken by Turkey and Armenia to normalize ties, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday after neighboring countries announced they intend to mend relations.
“We welcome and strongly support statements by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia on appointing Special Envoys to discuss the process of normalization,” Blinken wrote on Twitter.
“Armenia has always been and remains ready for the process of normalization of relations with Turkey, without preconditions,” Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vahan Hunanyan said on Facebook on Tuesday.
“We assess positively the statement of the foreign minister of Turkey on the appointment of a special representative for the normalization of relations, and confirm that the Armenian side also will appoint a special representative for dialogue.”
On Monday, Çavuşoğlu announced: “We will respectively nominate with Armenia special representatives for normalization.”
“We will also start Yerevan-Istanbul charter flights in the coming period,” he told Parliament in Ankara.
The borders between the two countries have been closed for decades and diplomatic relations have been on hold.
Armenia and Turkey signed a landmark peace accord in 2009 to restore ties and open their shared border after decades, but the deal was never ratified and ties have remained tense.
Relations between Armenia and Turkey have historically been complicated. Turkey’s position on the events of 1915 is that Armenians lost their lives in eastern Anatolia after some sided with the invading Russians and revolted against the Ottoman forces. The subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties, with killings by militaries and militia groups from both sides increasing the death toll.
Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as “genocide” but describes the 1915 events as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.
The relationship deteriorated more recently after Turkey supported Azerbaijan, which fought a brief war with Yerevan last year for control of the Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region. However, countries in the region have recently looked for further cooperation in the South Caucasus.