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Normalization between Armenia, Azerbaijan, Türkiye to create new opportunities for Caucasus

5 May 2023 10:20 (UTC+04:00)
Normalization between Armenia, Azerbaijan, Türkiye to create new opportunities for Caucasus

Full normalization of ties between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Türkiye will create new opportunities for the Caucasus region, Turkish defense minister Hulusi Akar said in an interview with Turkish media outlet, Azernews reports.

According to the minister, he is 'hopeful' that reversing historical enmities will pave the way for lasting friendship and cooperation.

“However, we must be mindful of the delicate situation at hand. While the conflict is currently frozen, the threat of falling back into hostilities grows the longer it takes to hammer out a deal,” he said.

Akar said two issues have prevented Ankara and Yerevan from developing normal ties since Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union. One was the “the war in 1992 over Nagorno-Karabakh and the consequent occupation, in violation of international law, of a substantial amount of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia.”

“The other obstacle is the unresolved differing perspectives on the historic events of 1915 that led to the deaths of both Armenians and Muslims in the final years of the Ottoman Empire,” he said.

While the first one has more or less been resolved, with Azerbaijan regaining its lands in 2020 after three decades of Armenian occupation, the second one “has proven far more difficult to surmount, as it is a deeply emotional and sensitive topic for both sides,” said Akar.

Türkiye is keen to resolve this issue and called on Armenia in 2005 to open its national archives and establish a joint committee of historians to research the events of 1915, said Akar, adding “Türkiye has already opened its national archives to international scrutiny, but Armenia still keeps its archives closed and refuses to respond to our call.”

“During the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was attacked by Russia on its eastern front, emboldening Armenian nationalists to take up arms and engage in acts of violence against Muslims, including attacks on Muslim villages and civilians. These acts have been documented and acknowledged by historians as well as by Western military missions at the time,” he said.

He also said that American General James Guthrie Harbord’s report on the events of that time “also documented the atrocities committed by Armenians, who did not constitute a majority in any region of the Ottoman lands, against other subjects of the empire.”

“This is not to disregard the massive humanitarian crises that took place during this period. (Turkish) President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan back in 2014 – then the prime minister – expressed his condolences to the descendants of the Armenians who lost their lives in that period,” said Akar.

Akar said that Türkiye remains steadfast in its belief that the Turkish and Armenian people, who have a long history of living in tolerance and peace, can establish relations based on friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation, despite the challenges.

“If the countries in the region and beyond choose to invest in peace, the political and economic dividends will be high for the entire region. Türkiye would like to see third countries – including its allies in the West – either help usher in this new understanding or be at least wary of efforts to politicize a historical controversy and perpetuate hostilities,” he added.

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