Turkiye, Politics

Turkish, Armenian special envoys to meet in Moscow

Roadmap towards normalizing ties to be addressed during 1st meeting, says Turkish foreign minister

Merve Aydogan   | 27.12.2021
Turkish, Armenian special envoys to meet in Moscow

ANKARA

Moscow will host the first meeting between Turkish and Armenian special envoys to discuss steps to normalize ties between the two countries, Turkey's foreign minister said on Monday.

Speaking at a year-end Turkish foreign policy roundup, Mevlut Cavusoglu said the special envoys of each country should first speak over the phone and decide on the time and place of a face-to-face meeting.

"Our impression is that the first meeting will take place in Moscow, as Armenia desires. Aside from the first meeting, we also want communication to be held directly ... We mutually appointed special envoys to speak directly," Cavusoglu said.

He said a roadmap towards normalizing ties needs to be set, adding that this would be on the first meeting's agenda.

Noting that charter flights between Turkey and Armenia would soon begin, he reiterated that Turkey is pursuing its normalization discussions in consultation and coordination with Azerbaijan.

Armenia's rhetoric has so far been positive, said Turkey’s top diplomat, adding that Turkey wants action as well.

On the push by Turkey and Armenia to normalize relations back in 2009, Cavusoglu said that though this previous attempt was done in "good faith," the new process was separate.

"Within the framework of this process, new steps must be taken to normalize relations. This will be important for the stability, peace, and prosperity of the Caucasus," he said.

On Dec. 15, Turkey appointed Serdar Kilic, a former ambassador to the US, as its special envoy to discuss steps for normalization with Armenia. Three days later, Armenia also appointed its special representative for dialogue with Turkey, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Ruben Rubinyan.


2016 migrant deal with EU

Asked about EU visa liberalization for Turkish citizens – a measure contained in the 2016 Turkey-EU migrant deal – Cavusoglu said Turkey has fulfilled about 67-68 criteria out of 72 needed for liberalization.

Telling how there are differences over criteria related to the political parties law and counter-terrorism measures, he said the primary issue on the visa liberalization issue is the EU failing to hold high-level dialogue meetings with Turkey in recent years.

"Fulfilling these criteria isn’t an issue for us,” he said. The overdue update to the 1995 Customs Union between the bloc and Turkey, he added, “they are saying it is beneficial for both parties. But they haven’t started negotiations yet, saying one or two countries are blocking it."

"The EU continues to stall with aims to not keep its word on this matter, as it does on other issues," Cavusoglu said.

Turkey has long complained that while it upheld its end of the 2016 deal, the EU failed to keep its promises under the agreement.


A busy year

On his diplomatic efforts during the year, Cavusoglu said he held over 320 phone and video conferences in 2021.

He also said he paid 74 visits abroad and hosted 79 foreign ministers in Turkey.

"I would like to proudly say that we have successfully hosted four major international events," he added.

Noting that Turkey is now an important figure in Africa, Cavusoglu said: "The third Turkey-Africa summit held in Turkey (this month) was an important event that attracted everyone's attention. At the summit, we agreed on a five-year action plan and a follow-up mechanism for implementation of this action plan."

He also announced that Turkey’s annual Antalya Diplomacy Forum will be held on March 11-13 with the theme of "Recoding Diplomacy."

"We will continue our active, dynamic, and result-oriented diplomatic activities in every region in 2022," he added.

Asked about terrorist YPG/PKK activity in Syria, Cavusoglu again stressed that it is a separatist terror group and that it has the same aim for Iraq and Syria as it did in Turkey.

He said the terrorist group is not hiding its separatist agenda in Syria, adding: "Unfortunately, it gets support from some countries, especially the US. Therefore, aside from our current relations with the (Assad) regime, the fight against terrorist groups is in our common interest."

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.​​​​​​​

Turkey has long protested US support for the terrorist YPG/PKK in Syria, saying this support flies in the faces of its relationship with its ally Turkey.


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