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Former Turkish special envoy suggests opening border with Armenia

Former Turkish special envoy suggests opening border with Armenia

 

Unal Cevikoz

Yerevan /Mediamax/. Retired Turkish diplomat Unal Cevikoz believes Turkey should come forward with a new initiative to overcome the current impasse between Yerevan and Ankara.

He stated about it in his article “Turkish-Armenian Relations Need a New Game-Changer” in Turkish Hurriyet Daily.

Unal Cevikoz was the Political Director at Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2007-2010. In 2008, he led the Turkish delegation at Armenian-Turkish talks in Bern. In September, 2008, Unal Cevikoz paid a visit to Yerevan as the Special Envoy of the President of Turkey.

“No matter what happens and how the two countries get through 2015, obviously, 2015 is not an end in itself. What is important is how Turkey and Armenia look at their relations beyond this notorious date. What they need is a new game changer”, Unal Cevikoz wrote.

According to him, in order to regain its position in the Caucasus as a pro-active subject of regional politics, Turkey might come forward with a new initiative to overcome the current impasse. This could be achieved by opening its border with Armenia to test its impact on the region, on Turkish-Armenian relations, and on Armenian-Azerbaijani relations”, Unal Cevikoz wrote.

“One may simplistically argue that the closed Turkish-Armenian border is a strong leverage on Armenia to engage in Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks, suggesting that its opening before the problem is resolved would cause Armenia to lose enthusiasm and motivation in the peace process. But it is hard to see how the closed border remains leverage if it has not caused Armenia to engage in a committed negotiation with Azerbaijan in the last 20 years. Equally, the closed border does not give Turkey the initiative to contribute to the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem”, noted the retired Turkish diplomat.

He stated that the open border might become a more influential leverage compared to a closed one if it really brings significant gains to Armenia.

“Turkey, by gradually and incrementally opening the border, would be in a position to encourage its neighbors to engage in a new phase of negotiations, perhaps much more positively than before. Turkey would then look at the progress on the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and would be able to transform the Turkish-Armenian border into a more functional instrument in time”, he noted.

Unal Cevikoz wrote that, in order to become an honest broker in the Caucasus region, Turkey has to be equidistant to all actors in the region.

“Such an approach would also positively change the Armenian misperception about Turkey’s will and commitments. It is time for Turkey to show a respectable presence in the region. Such an assertive attitude would help Armenia and Azerbaijan follow suit with similar strong statesmanship”, concluded the author.

Unal Cevikoz held the post of the Ambassador of Turkey to Azerbaijan over 2001-2004.

Mediamax

 

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