World Bulletin / News Desk
Though normalization efforts between estranged neighbors Turkey and Armenia have stalled, Turkey will be among the NATO and partner countries taking part in an exercise to be held in Armenia by NATO's Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center (EADRCC).
Foreign Ministry officials based in Ankara, speaking with Cihan NEws Agency on Wednesday, confirmed a media report that Turkey will participate in a disaster response exercise called “Armenia 2010.” The exercise, organized by the EADRCC as a consequence management field exercise, will take place between Sept. 11 and 17 in Armenia.
For the exercise, the border between Turkey and Armenia may be opened “temporarily,” Turkish diplomatic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Cihan News Agency on Wednesday.
“During technical discussions at NATO headquarters in Brussels a while ago, when such a possibility was raised by NATO officials, the Turkish side responded favorably,” diplomatic sources said.
Yet whether the border is physically suitable for the conduct of the exercise is still in question. Nonetheless, whatever the scenario is and however the border will be used, for instance for the crossing of trucks loaded with humanitarian aid, the border will be closed again upon the end of the exercises, the same diplomatic sources highlighted.
Although Turkey was among the first countries to recognize Armenia after the ex-Soviet nation declared independence in 1991, the two neighbors have no diplomatic relations. In 1993 Turkey shut its border with Armenia in a show of solidarity with its close ally, Azerbaijan, which was at war with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, dealing a heavy economic blow to the impoverished nation.
Ankara and Yerevan signed two protocols in Zurich on Oct. 10 of last year on the establishment of diplomatic relations and the development of bilateral relations between the two countries, including the opening of their common border.
However, the process hit a rocky patch in January after an Armenian court upheld the legality of the protocols but underlined that they could not contradict Yerevan's official position that the alleged Armenian genocide must be internationally recognized.
Turkey accused Yerevan of trying to set conditions on the deals. The process of normalization has also been crippled by Turkey's insistence on parallel progress on the Nagorno-Karabakh territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.