Turkish President Abdullah Gul paid a landmark visit to Yerevan in September to watch a game between the two countries' national teams, a move that was called “soccer diplomacy.”
One of the triggers of the process was the conflict that erupted between Russia and Georgia in August. That dispute raised concerns regarding peace and stability in the region and inspired Turkey's offer to form a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform. Armenia welcomed the move along with other countries in the region.
This is seen as the third important step between the two neighboring countries for normalizing diplomatic relations after they were cut in 1993.
The first attempt came under the first Armenian president, Levon Ter Petrosian, and was later followed by retired Turkish diplomats and representatives of the Armenian diaspora forming a reconciliation commission.
In late March, the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review reported that the sides had agreed on a protocol that sets the framework for transition to full diplomatic relations possibly starting with low-key representations in Ankara and Yerevan or accreditation of ambassadors from other neighboring capitals.
Simultaneously, Turkey will devise a road map for a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. The details of the new border regime will be determined by the border committee while, as part of a show of good will, immediate measures would be taken for a gradual opening, the report said.
Diplomatic recognition will be supported by social and economic projects with coordination of the Turkish Armenian Business Development Council, or TABDC, according to the diplomats.
Although the border crossing is closed between the two countries, official figures show 50,000 to 60,000 Armenian tourists visit Turkey each year and trade between the two neighbors continues via Georgia and Iran.
1) 1915 INCIDENTS: Armenia, with the backing of its diaspora, claims up to 1.5 million of its kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings in 1915. Turkey rejects the claims saying that 300,000 Armenians, along with at least as many Turks, died in civil strife that emerged when Armenians took up arms, backed by Russia, for independence in eastern Anatolia. Turkey’s proposal to form a joint commission to investigate the allegations have so far been rejected by Armenia.
2) NAGORNO-KARABAKH: The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia began in 1988 due to Armenian territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Since 1992, the Armenian military has occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven surrounding districts. Some 10 percent of the Azerbaijani population was displaced due to a series of bloody clashes both between and within the two neighboring countries. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a cease-fire agreement at which time the active hostilities ended. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group are currently holding peaceful negotiations. Turkey says it will not take any step to open borders before the conflict is resolved, while Azerbaijan makes similar warnings.
3) TERRITORIAL DISAGREEMENTS: Turkey is uncomfortable with the articles in the Armenia's declaration of independence and constitution, claiming some parts of Turkey should belong to Armenia. The border between Turkey and Armenia was drawn by the Kars-Gumru Treaty signed in 1912. There are also claims on the Armenian side that this treaty is not valid anymore.
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