Normalization between Turkey and Armenia benefits both sides - analyst
The landmark agreement by Turkey and Armenia to re-open their common border for third-country nationals and to begin direct cargo flights is a step forward in normalization talks between the two countries, said Richard Giragosian, director of the Regional Studies Center from Yerevan, Armenia, in an article he wrote for IWPR.
The land border between the neighbors has been closed since 1993, in the wake of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan creating a hedge in regional trade.
Here are some excerpts from the analyst’s commentary:
“Through its three decades of independence, weathering war with Azerbaijan over Karabakh, and facing an often hostile and threatening Turkey.”
“In a pursuit of balance through a policy that became known as complementarity, Armenia struggled to sustain a parity between its security partnership with Russia and its interest in deepening ties to the EU and the West. As an inherently contradictory policy, such a balancing act has been difficult to maintain over the years”
“The process of normalization with Turkey offers greater hope for progress, beginning with a modest and practical set of objectives: establishing diplomatic relations and reopening the closed border between the two countries. But normalization is neither reconciliation nor rapprochement. It stands out as the basic minimum for neighbors.”
There is a sense of relief that the process has finally focused on practical and critical issues.
“However, this process bolsters efforts to restore regional trade and transport throughout the South Caucasus. This is also important for both sides as Armenia needs to evade isolation and escape closed borders. For Turkey, a deep domestic economic crisis also imposes its own cost to keeping borders closed and missing opportunities to gain new markets.”
“In the latest meeting on July 1, the Turkish and Armenian foreign ministries agreed in principle “to enable the crossing of the land border between Armenia and Turkey by third-country citizens visiting Armenia and Turkey respectively at the earliest date possible and decided to initiate the necessary process to that end. They also agreed on commencing direct air cargo trade between Armenia and Turkey at the earliest possible date. Against that backdrop, there is a sense of relief that the process has finally focused on practical and critical issues”
“Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has dramatically overturned the already complex geopolitical calculus. As a much larger challenge to the European security landscape, Russia’s invasion only threatens to usher in a new period of insecurity for each of its neighbors. The looming threat from an angry, isolated Russia stems from a likely move from Moscow to restrict “sovereign choice” among its neighbors and Russia may change its position regarding Armenia-Turkey normalization.”
“Baku successfully derailed the earlier round of normalization and there is a sense of danger from Azerbaijan’s reaction to the latest Armenia-Turkey meeting. In fact, in a sudden move on July 1, the Azerbaijani state border service announced that it was closing its border with Turkey. That short 13-kilometer frontier was the sole open border for Azerbaijan, as its borders with Georgia, Iran and Russia have been closed since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.”