Armenia appoints special representative for normalisation with Turkey

Armenia appoints special representative for normalisation with Turkey
After decades of tensions, the two countries have both made steps towards normalisation. Their relation remains marred by Turkey's role in the 1915 genocide of Armenians and its continuing support for Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
2 min read
19 December, 2021
Yerevan has begun a process to normalise ties with Ankara after three decades of frozen relations [Getty]

Armenia appointed its first special representative for the normalisation of relations with Turkey, the Armenian Foreign Ministry announced on Saturday. 

Last week, Turkey also named its special representative for normalisation with Armenia and announced it would re-launch charter flights between the two countries. The envoy is the former Turkish ambassador to Washington, Serdar Kilic.

Although Turkey recognised Armenia's independence in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the countries never exchanged ambassadors and their joint borders have remained closed since 1993. 

Relations were always strained; Ankara repeatedly sided with Azerbaijan in its claims over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory at the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Last year, Baku invaded the disputed territory with Turkey's blessing, and expelled its Armenian residents.

In 2009, Turkey and Armenia signed a historic agreement to restore their ties, which was not implemented. Now, both countries have given signs of progress towards the normalisation of relations. 

"Armenia has always been and remains ready for the process of normalisation of relations with Turkey, without preconditions," Armenian foreign ministry spokesman Vahan Hunanyan said last month.

Armenia and Turkey have a very hostile relationship linked to conflicting interpretations of Turkey's role in the 1915 genocide of Armenians.

During the course of the First World War, Ottoman forces led by ruling Turkish nationalist movements forcibly displaced millions of Christian Armenians from their villages in eastern Anatolia to the Syrian desert. Over one million Armenians were killed in these "death marches".

While most historians qualify these events as a genocide, Turkey's position is that Armenians lost their lives because they sided with Russia's invasion of Ottoman territory and had to be removed from the border region. Ankara's relationship with Armenia has been extremely complicated as a result.