(Photo Credit: Twitter)
The border gate between Armenia and Turkiye opened for the first time in 35 years on 11 February, to facilitate the transfer of aid to the victims of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred earlier this week.
The death toll from the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks continues to rise, having an estimated toll of more than 34,000 dead in Turkiye and neighboring Syria.
Ankara’s special envoy to Yerevan, Serdar Kilic, shared photos on Twitter of transport trucks passing through the Alican checkpoint on Turkiye’s side of the border.
Kilic thanked Armenia officials for their help, remarking: “I will always remember the generous aid sent by the people of Armenia to help alleviate the sufferings of our people in the earthquake-stricken region in Turkiye.”
According to Anadolu Agency, the last time the Alican checkpoint was opened was in 1988, when the Turkish Red Crescent sent aid to earthquake-hit Armenia. The earthquake had a magnitude of 6.8, and took over 38,000 lives.
Armenia and Turkiye have been at odds ever since the 1915 Armenian Genocide, which occurred under Turkish Ottoman rule. In the intervening years, Ankara has never taken accountability for its war crimes, despite the two countries attempting to hold reconciliation talks; however, the US, Russia, France, the UK, and many other nations recognize the 20th century conflict as a genocide.
On 14 October 2022, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu disclosed that Turkiye is moving towards normalization with Armenia “in the near future.”
Cavusoglu revealed this to his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, during a press conference in Istanbul: “We negotiate currently which confidence-building steps we can take with Armenia … The next talks will take place in Turkiye or Armenia. We are sincere in our normalization efforts with Armenia.”
Despite the normalization efforts, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was asked about the “Zangezur Corridor,” which would give Azerbaijan unimpeded access to Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic without Armenian checkpoints, remarking that he “didn’t see any issues with it.”
On 6 October 2022, Erdogan and the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met in Prague to hold the first high-level talks between the two states in over 13 years.