Yesterday’s Times reported that Turkey and Armenia are moving towards establishing diplomatic ties after nearly a century of mutual antagonism.
The two countries are to hold six weeks of talks aimed at developing ties after which MPs on both sides will vote on agreed protocols, their foreign ministries announced in a joint statement. The protocols are intended to establish diplomatic ties and develop bilateral relations.
The Elephant in the room will not be subject of discussion though— the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks.
Expectations of a diplomatic breakthrough have been growing before a planned visit by Armenian President Serge Sarkisian to Turkey in October, to attend a World Cup qualifying football match between the two countries. Last year Abdullah Gül, the Turkish President, paid an unprecedented visit to Armenia and sat alongside Mr Sarkisian in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, to watch the 2008 qualifying match.
While the Armenian massacre will not be a deal breaker for the Armenians, Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has linked the discussions to a resolution of the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Azeri region occupied by Armenian troops. Turkey closed the border between the two countries in 1993 as a gesture of support for Azerbaijan in the dispute and Azerbaijan is pressing Turkey for help in recovering its land.
"We want to normalise our relations with Armenia, but we also want full normalisation of relations in the South Caucasus, including Nagorno-Karabakh," said Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu "This would provide a stable, sustainable peace and stability in our region. The Caucasus has already suffered a lot from ethnic tension and frozen conflicts," he said. "We know very well from our experiences in the Caucasus and Balkans that frozen conflicts are like bombs in our hands and if we cannot control them, they could blow up in our hands," Mr Davutoglu said.
What to say? Better indeed to jaw-jaw than War-war. I have no idea what will come of these talks but if it can at least open some level of communication between the two countries then that cannot be a bad thing.