Armenia’s foreign minister Ara Aivazian says he doesn’t see any reason why Turkey should continue keeping its border with Armenia closed. Turkey closed the frontier in 1993 in response to the Armenian occupation of districts in Azerbaijan – eventually seven – which resulted in the ethnic cleansing of 600,000 ethnic Azeris from the area. Armenian forces were driven from several of the districts during last year’s war and it was forced to cede others as part of a peace deal.
“I think that under the international community’s pressure Turkey will gradually return to a normal process, now there is no reason to apply blockade against Armenia. The blockade was conditioned with the status-quo in Artsakh, which has changed through the use of force. Turkey no longer has any reason to keep the border with Armenia closed,” Aivazian told lawmakers during a question-and-answer session in parliament on February 10.
He added that the government’s main goal is to do everything to further strengthen the security environment around Armenia and Artsakh. “This isn’t an easy issue. Naturally, as a state, as a society, we must seek to make every effort for the situation to move towards de-escalation. Our diplomacy will make active efforts in order for a favorable environment to exist around us for strengthening Armenia’s security,” he said.
Armenia refers to the border closure as a “blockade”, though its borders with Georgia and Iran have remained open. Nevertheless, the war and occupation exacerbated deep economic problems in the country and meant it was excluding from lucrative regional trade and pipeline projects. The occupation of the districts also resulted in four unanimous UN security council resolutions demanding it withdraw, though it never fulfilled them.
Aivazian also expressed concern over recent joint Turkish-Azerbaijani military exercises held near the Armenian border in Kars.