By Tuvan Gumrukcu
ANTALYA, Turkey (Reuters) -Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he held “productive and constructive” talks with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan on Saturday as they bid to mend ties after decades of animosity.
The two met at a diplomatic forum in Antalya on Turkey’s southern coast. Ankara has had no diplomatic or commercial ties with Armenia since the 1990s but they held talks in January in a first attempt to restore links since a 2009 peace accord, which was never ratified.
Saturday’s meeting was the first sit-down meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers since 2009. They spoke briefly on the sidelines of an OSCE meeting in November last year.
“It was a very productive and constructive conversation,” Cavusoglu told reporters after the talks, which lasted 30 minutes. “We are making efforts for stability and peace.”
Speaking through a translator, Mirzoyan said: “We are continuing the process of normalising relations without preconditions … We are making efforts.”
The two countries are at odds over several issues, primarily the 1.5 million people Armenia says were killed in 1915 by the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor to modern Turkey.
Armenia says the 1915 killings constitute a 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 killings were systematic or constitute genocide.
The two countries have said the January talks were “positive and constructive,” raising the prospect that ties could be restored and borders reopened.
Tensions flared during a 2020 war over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory. Turkey accused ethnic Armenian forces of occupying land belonging to Azerbaijan. Turkey has since called for a rapprochement, as it seeks greater regional influence.
(Reporting by Tuvan GumrukcuWriting by Daren ButlerEditing by Mark Potter)