Turkish, Armenian leaders go ahead with first-ever face-to-face meeting

Turkish, Armenian leaders go ahead with first-ever face-to-face meeting
Pashinyan and Erdogan shake hands at the EPC Summit in Prague. / AA footage, screengrab.
By Ani Mejlumyan in Yerevan October 7, 2022

In their first-ever face-to-face meeting, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan discussed prospects for the normalisation of relations between their countries as well as regional security matters.

The encounter took place in Prague on October 7 on the sidelines of a European Political Community (EPC) summit initiated by France.

The Armenian government’s press office said that Pashinyan and Erdogan discussed “possible further steps” towards establishing diplomatic relations between their nations and the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border, which has been kept unilaterally closed by Turkey since 1993.

A statement from the office read that Pashinyan urged a quick implementation of recent agreements to open the border to citizens of third countries and to allow mutual cargo shipments by air. Turkish and Armenian envoys reached interim agreements for these steps in July.

“Views were also exchanged on regional processes,” added the Armenian readout of the meeting. It did not elaborate.

Following the summit, Pashinyan tweeted: 

"In Prague I reconfirmed again our proposal on unblocking of all regional communications. 

@Azerbaijan again did not respond positively. I reiterate, @Armenia is ready for unblocking of all regional communications with full respect of our sovereignty and legislation."

The Turkish presidency reported no details of the talks. It said only that Erdogan “received” Pashinyan.

Erdogan and other Turkish leaders have repeatedly demonstrated that the normalisation of Turkish-Armenian relations is contingent on Armenia accepting Azerbaijan’s key demands. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Yerevan must recognise Azerbaijani sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh and open a land corridor to Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan exclave through the Syunik province of Armenia, which borders Iran. Iran, in its turn, has proved strongly against this corridor.

“We will do what we have done until now,” Erdogan told RFE/RL in Prague when asked about the main obstacles to Turkish-Armenian normalisation.

Photos of a pre-talks informal sit-down, circulated on social media, showed Pashinyan sitting at the same table with Erdogan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and chatting with them in the lobby of the presidential palace in Prague, where the European summit was held.