Armenia ready to restore Turkish ties: PM
“I have already said many times that we are ready to establish direct relationships with Turkey without any precondition,” Pashinyan said, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.
“We hope Turkey will take the same stance,” Pashinyan said, Armenia’s Armenpress reported. “The problem is that unfortunately relationship with Turkey has been connected with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It is a very strange situation when the relations between two countries can be so strongly connected with a third country … Azerbaijan,” he said.
Mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan is controlled by ethnic Armenians who declared independence in 1991 as Soviet rule ended.
From 1991 to 1994, the confrontation spilled over into war over the enclave and adjacent territories after Azerbaijan lost control.
Thousands fled and around 30,000 were killed. A truce was called in May 1994.
Turkey closed its border with Armenia after siding with Azerbaijan.
Ties are also complicated by the Armenian genocide during the First World War, while Turkey vehemently denies the term.
Armenia’s election commission said Pashinyan’s My Step Alliance secured 70.4 per cent of votes at the snap general election at the weekend.
Turnout was 49 per cent, in an increase on last year’s election.
In April, former journalist Pashinyan led protests against the Republican Party government, which disrupted the capital, Yerevan, and forced then prime minister, Serzh Sargsyan, to resign.
Republicans failed to clear the 5-per-cent threshold to win seats.
The moderate Prosperous Armenia party came second with just over 8 per cent of the vote. Led by tycoon and arm-wrestling champion Gagik Tsarukyan, the party was part of the deposed ruling coalition.
Pashinyan, 43, became acting prime minister in May and resigned in October ahead of an election to gain a parliamentary majority.
He has vowed to fight poverty and unemployment, end lucrative import monopolies allegedly controlled by Sargsyan’s inner circle and tackle corruption.
EU election monitors claimed Pashinyan “provoked a wave of hate speech” against the Republicans while maintaining close ties with Russia. Russia’s support is key to the conflict with Azerbaijan.
Armenia’s previous elections have been marred by fraud and vote-buying but the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe said the weekend’s voting respected fundamental freedoms and was characterised by genuine competition.
The Republicans have complained that Pashinyan is prosecuting party chiefs for political purposes.
Nikol Pashinyan. Picture credit: Wikimedia