On July 1, 2022, the Armenian and Turkish Special Envoys, Rubin Rubinyan and Serdar Kilic, met in Vienna, Austria, for their fourth bilateral meeting on normalizing relations between the two neighboring countries. Afterwards, a joint statement issued separately but with the same wording announced that both had agreed to a partial opening of the closed border for the citizens of third countries and, following the resumption of commercial passenger flights on February 2, 2022, the first-ever launch of direct cargo flights.
No date was given but analysts expect that these decisions will be implemented in the coming months, with the Yerevan-based founder and chairperson of the Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies, Benyamin Poghosyan, believing that it could be by the end of August. Also a participant at our inaugural Armenia-Azerbaijan dialogue series held last month, Dr. Poghosyan believes Armenia and Turkey might even establish diplomatic relations by the end of the year.
On July 11, 2022, there was another positive development when Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in an unprecedented telephone call. Both congratulated each other on their two respective festivals taking place in July while again confirming their commitment to partially open the border and launch direct cargo flights in the near future. Russia, the European Union, and the United States welcomed these positive developments.
Though not officially linked, but indirectly related, the July 16 meeting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers, Jeyhun Bayramov and Ararat Mirzoyan, in Tbilisi, Georgia, can also be considered another positive development. It was the first bilateral meeting between the two officials given that their previous meeting on May 13, 2022, was held trilaterally with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
The Tbilisi meeting was also welcomed by the European Union, the United States, and Iran.
Restart Initiative also welcomes these recent developments and hopes that more such bilateral meetings will continue, including the next meeting of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, already announced by Charles Michel at their last meeting held on May 22, 2022, in Brussels.