Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his country was ready to open its borders with Armenia following the end of the recent conflict in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Thursday.
“We have no grudge against the people of Armenia. The problem is with the Armenian administration. Over 100,000 Armenians live in my country,” Anadolu cited Erdoğan as saying.
The border between Turkey and Armenia has been closed since 1993 amid poor relations between Ankara and Yerevan over issues including Nagorno-Karabakh, which formally lies within Azerbaijan’s borders, but until recently was governed by an Armenian-led administration.
Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan, has previously made finding a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute a prerequisite for normalising relations with Armenia, a landlocked country where border closures with its neighbours have stifled the local economy.
Azerbaijan successfully retook much of Nagorno-Karabakh last month in a military offensive with Turkish support, and formal negotiations over a new political settlement for the region are expected to begin in the coming weeks.
Erdoğan criticised the OSCE Minsk Group, created in 1992 by international powers including France, the United States and Russia, for previously failing to find a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Anadolu said.
Instead, a new regional bloc should be created, he said, according to Anadolu. “Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, Georgia… Armenia could also be included in this platform.”