Turkey-Armenia border open first time in 35 years for aid delivery
The Alican border-crossing between the two nations was opened to allow relief aid provided by Armenia to reach Turkey.
The devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria earlier this week has led to some firsts in many years as countries around the world have been raising efforts to send aid and resources to help with disaster relief efforts.
One of such events was observed today at one of the Turkish-Aremnian border crossings where, for the first time in 35 years, the crossing was opened to allow aid to pass into quake-struck Turkey.
Turkey's special representative for dialogue with Armenia said that five trucks holding aid such as food and water, in addition to a team that will participate in the search-and-rescue efforts, crossed into Turkey through the Alican border crossing.
Read more: Turkey-Syria earthquake search operations underway, toll exceeds 21K
According to Turkish-state news agency Anadolu, the last time this border was opened was in 1988 when Turkey provided Armenia with aid after the latter was struck by a catastrophic earthquake that led to 25,000 deaths and around 30,000 injuries.
Since then, cargo trucks had to pass through Georgia or Iran.
"In addition to the A/K team of 28 people and technical equipment, immediately after the earthquake, 5 truckloads of 100 tons of food, medicine, water and other emergency aid packages of the Armenian people left for Adıyaman by passing through the Alican border gate this morning," Serdar Kilic said on his Twitter account, thanking the Armenian Vice President of the National Assembly Ruben Rubinyan.
Read more: Western selective humanitarianism, Syria earthquake falls on deaf ear
Depremin hemen akabindeki 28 kişilik A/K ekibi ve teknik ekipmana ilaveten,Ermenistan halkının 5 TIR dolusu 100 tonluk gıda,ilaç,su ve sair acil yardım paketi de bu sabah Alican sınır kapısından geçerek Adıyaman'a doğru yola çıktı.Teşekkürler @RubenRubinyan teşekkürler Ermenistan pic.twitter.com/Val0BC9pbp— Serdar KILIÇ (@serdarkilic9) February 11, 2023
Kilic expressed gratitude to Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanyan and Deputy Parliament Speaker, Special Representative for negotiations with Turkey Ruben Rubinyan for the efforts to make this happen.
“I will always remember the generous aid sent by the people of Armenia to help alleviate the sufferings of our people in the earthquake-stricken region in Turkey,” he said.
Rubinyan replied to the Turkish official in a tweet: "Happy to have been able to assist."
Trucks with humanitarian aid crossed the Armenian-Turkish border today and are on their way to the earthquake affected area. Happy to have been able to assist. @serdarkilic9 pic.twitter.com/EW0XRjW83d— Ruben Rubinyan (@RubenRubinyan) February 11, 2023.
Armenia's aid to Turkey breaks years-long diplomatic tension
On February 7, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan thanked Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan for Armenia's assistance after the devastating earthquake, emphasizing how much the Turkish government values Yerevan's assistance, according to sources in the Armenian government.
In a phone call, "Erdogan thanked the prime minister of Armenia for his help and noted that the Turkish government highly appreciated the support of Armenia, emphasizing the importance of this step also in the context of further deepening the dialogue between the two countries," the statement said.
On February 8, Hakob Arshakyan, the deputy speaker of the Armenian National Assembly, said the Turkish and Armenian nations should attempt to amend their grievances to attend to the respective countries' pertinent challenges.
"Turkey is our neighboring country and if we do not manage our problems, others will deal with them based on their interests. In order to cope with these problems, it is also necessary to change the mutual attitude of the peoples of the two countries toward each other," Arshakyan, a representative of the Civic Agreement faction in the Armenian parliament said on social media.
The deputy speaker pointed out that some Armenian parties were attempting to capitalize on the passions of Armenian society by using the decision of Armenian authorities to aid earthquake victims in Turkey.
"This humanitarian step is very important not only in terms of the attitude of Turkish society but also of the international community. It is an aspiration for a dignified conversation between the two countries, where Armenia speaks from its state interests ... In numerous confrontations, conflicts, and wars in the world, the sides are trying to find the edges of dialogue and manage the conflicts," Arshakyan added.
Why the event is significant
The relationship between the two countries, who have never established diplomatic ties, has been strained due to Turkey refusing to recognize Armenia's accusations of genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire during WWI.
The relations between the two countries have further deteriorated because of the Nagorno-Karabakh war when Turkey supported Azerbaijan's claim to sovereignty over the region.
Read more: Armenian PM: Recognition of genocide would defuse region tensions
However, in December 2021, special envoys were appointed by the two countries in an attempt to normalize relations, and in February 2022, commercial flights between Turkey and Armenia resumed after a two-year halt.