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Armenia says it’s ready for peace deal if Azerbaijan shows political will

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Refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh region arrive in the border village of Kornidzor, Armenia

Armenia is ready to sign a peace agreement with Azerbaijan if Baku shows the same political will, and is keen to make progress on normalising relations with Turkey, a senior Armenian official said on Saturday.

Yerevan and Baku said in December they wanted to reach a peace deal after decades of being at odds, but no agreement has been signed yet.

The most divisive issue has long been the Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan. Baku’s forces recaptured the mountainous area in September after years of ethnic Armenian control, prompting most of its ethnic Armenians to flee to Armenia.

Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanyan said Armenia had the political will for a normalisation of relations with Azerbaijan based on principles previously agreed upon by the two sides.

“This is an issue of political will and leadership,” he told Reuters in an interview during the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey.

He said Yerevan had shown the political will needed, including at talks on Friday between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Turkey, Baku’s main backer.

“Now, if the Azerbaijani side is really interested in having peace, we just need to agree to put the agreed principles by the leaders (on paper) and sign it,” he said.

Among outstanding issues is the lack of agreement over their shared border, with each side holding small areas surrounded by the other’s territory.

Kostanyan said the two sides needed to recognise each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and drew attention to Yerevan’s “Crossroads for Peace” plan for opening n communication lines in the region to help regional stability.

There was no immediate comment from Baku n his remarks.

SEEKING BETTER TURKEY-ARMENIA TIES

NATO member Turkey has deepened political and military ties with Azerbaijan in recent years but has also been working to revive ties with Armenia after decades of animosity after severing diplomatic and commercial ties in 1993 in support of Azerbaijan during a war Baku was fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Kostanyan said Armenia wanted a full normalisation of ties with Turkey, including the opening of their shared border and establishment of diplomatic relations.

“The establishment of diplomatic relations is basically communications between two states,” he said. “Of course, reconciliation between two nations can take longer, but we need to have diplomatic relations which will help us and help our people.”

He said Yerevan had done the work needed to open borders with Turkey, including infrastructure repairs, and was awaiting on Ankara’s response.

Turkey and Armenia are at odds primarily over the 1.5 million people Yerevan says were killed in 1915 by the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor to modern Turkey.

Armenia says this constitutes genocide. Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War One, but contests the figures and denies it was systematic.

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