Armenia's foreign minister has accused neighboring Turkey of setting "new conditions" for the normalization of relations between the two countries.
In an interview by the French daily Le Figaro that was posted by the Armenian Foreign Ministry on November 20 and which was recorded during Ararat Mirzoyan's visit to Paris on November 11, Mirzoyan said Armenia is prepared for normalization with Ankara despite "huge Turkish support" for Azerbaijan during the 2020 fighting over the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
"We have received positive signals from Turkey to reopen the dialogue, but it remains complicated," the foreign minister said. "Ankara sets new conditions. Among them is a 'corridor' connecting Azerbaijan and [the Azerbaijani exclave of] Nakhichevan."
Opening transportation links in the region was part of the Russia-brokered cease-fire agreement that ended 44 days of fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia last year, including access to Nakhichevan.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has rejected what he calls "corridor logic" for resolving the issues, while Mirzoyan told Le Figaro that the demand for an "extraterritorial" corridor was out of the question.
"States must allow transit while maintaining sovereignty over their territory," he said. "All transport links in the region must be reopened."
Turkey has long been a key regional ally of Azerbaijan and has kept its border with Armenia closed for nearly three decades, due to what it said was Armenia's occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions, an issue that was resolved by the cease-fire deal.
Mirzoyan also said the situation surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh remains tense, accusing Baku of dragging its heels on the issue of releasing Armenian prisoners of war. He urged the immediate resumption of talks under the auspices of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
"Certainly, the issue of a final settlement of the conflict remains on the agenda," he said. "But at this stage we have agreed to go forward by taking small steps, such as securing the release of prisoners of war and access by international organizations – including UNESCO – to Nagorno-Karabakh for humanitarian purposes."