Armenia-Turkey crossing opens for first time in 35 years for earthquake aid

The land borders were opened the last time Turkey had a major earthquake. (document)

Istanbul, Turkey:

A border crossing between Armenia and Turkey opened for the first time in 35 years on Saturday to allow humanitarian aid to pass after a major earthquake in the region, an official said.

Serdar Kilic, Turkey’s special envoy for dialogue with Armenia, said on Twitter that five trucks carrying aid such as food and water arrived in Turkey from the Alikan border crossing.

Aid came this week after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, killing nearly 25,000 people and injuring tens of thousands in both countries.

State news agency Anadolu said it was the first time the crossing had opened since 1988, when the country was hit by an earthquake that killed 25,000 to 30,000 people and Turkey sent aid to Armenia.

Kilic thanked Armenia and Ruben Rubinian, vice-president of the Armenian National Assembly, in a tweet. The aid also includes medicines, he said.

“Glad to help,” Roubinian said on Twitter.

The two countries have never established formal diplomatic relations, and their shared border has been closed since the 1990s.

Their relationship has been strained by the mass massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I, an atrocity Yerevan insists constituted genocide.

But in December 2021, the two countries appointed envoys to help normalize relations — a year after Armenia lost a battle for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region to Turkey’s ally Azerbaijan. .

Turkey strongly rejects the genocide label, arguing that between 300,000 and 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in the civil unrest when they rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian troops.

In February 2022, Turkey and Armenia resumed their first commercial flights in two years.

However, the land border between the two countries has been closed since 1993, forcing trucks to transit through Georgia or Iran.

(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)

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