Turkish-Armenian relations have been deadlocked since Armenia gained its independence in 1991. The closed border and the lack of diplomatic ties cloud the future of bilateral relations as well as official and non-official efforts aimed at contributing to the process of normalization. However, Turkish-Armenian relations have been gaining momentum since 2002. The restoration of the Akhtamar Church, the demonstrations in Turkey after the assassination of Hrant Dink, Turkey’s EU membership process and finally Turkish President Abdullah Gül’s visit to Yerevan in September 2008 are all cornerstones of this new era. This recent rapprochement process between Turkey and Armenia is also attracting significant attention from the international community. The primary reason behind this is the fact that the two sides have never come this close to a solution of their intricate problems during 18 years of bilateral relations.
Towards a Turkish-Armenian Rapprochement?
Given its close political, economic, social and cultural ties to the region, stability, prosperity and a cooperative atmosphere in the South Caucasus are of great significance to Turkey. From this perspective, the normalization of Turkey’s relations with Armenia is one of the priorities of the AKP government. So a new era is about to begin in Turkish-Armenian relations, which up until now have been burdened by historical legacies, inertia and a lack of trust. The process of rapprochement launched with the restoration of the Akhtamar Church in 2002 is likely to soon result in the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries; however, the process is complicated, and it is still uncertain when the official ties will be definitively established. That is why a detailed look at the 18 years of deadlock between Turkey and Armenia would be helpful in order to better understand the changing dynamics of the problem.
The lack of diplomatic ties between Turkey and Armenia jeopardizes Turkey’s efforts to become a regional leader and also its attempts at mediation for the region’s protracted conflicts.
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