Armenia lifts ban on Turkey’s imports in bid to ease icy bilateral relationship

Armenia lifts ban on Turkey’s imports in bid to ease icy bilateral relationship

Armenia is lifting a ban on Turkish manufactured imports imposed after Turkey backed Azerbaijan in its crushing 2020 war in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The six-month ban was imposed on New Year’s Eve last year, extended for another six months and it is not being extended. It did not apply to raw materials.

Yerevan called the import ban retaliation for Turkey’s “inflammatory calls”, arms supplies to Azerbaijan and “deployment of terrorist mercenaries to the conflict zone”.

It is hoped the lifting of the ban will boost Armenian exports.

Turkey has refused to establish diplomatic ties with Armenia and the border has been closed since the early 1990s in solidarity with Azerbaijan over Armenia’s seizure of Nagorno-Karabakh. It also bans all Armenian imports.

In September 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a one-sided, 44-day war over Nagorno-Karabakh, claiming more than 6,500 lives and ending with a Russian-brokered ceasefire. Under the deal, Armenia formally lost territories it had controlled since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Turkey and Armenia in December said they would appoint special envoys on improving relations.

Armenia imported US$267 million worth of Turkish manufactured goods in 2019, mostly through Georgia. According to Armenia’s Ministry of Economy, Turkish imports fell to $20 million in the first nine months of this year.

Armenia’s foreign ministry has said it believes in “normalising relations with Turkey without preconditions”.

Turkey recently said it is hoping to normalise its relations with Armenia if Yerevan agrees to open a land corridor connecting Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave. Turkish leaders have also mentioned Azerbaijan’s demand for formal Armenian recognition of Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh.

Turkey and Armenia have announced that steps toward normalisation are being taken and bilateral charter flights will commence.

This month Turkey appointed Serdar Kılıc, a former ambassador to the US, as its special envoy to normalise ties with Armenia. Armenia then appointed a special representative, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Ruben Rubinyan.

Turkey said Russia will host a meeting between the two special envoys, although no date was given.

The disputed legacy of the Armenian Genocide during the First World War is an ongoing source of bilateral tensions.

Armenia and Turkey signed a peace accord in 2009 to establish diplomatic ties and open the border but the agreement was never ratified and relations remain tense.

 

Armenia is keen to attract tourists through Turkey. Picture credit: WallPaperFlare

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