Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday amid spiraling tensions between his nation and Ankara’s close regional ally Azerbaijan, part of what regional diplomatic sources say is an ongoing effort aimed at getting Ankara to rein in an increasingly aggressive Baku. The Turkish presidency said in a statement that Pashinyan had congratulated the Turkish people on the occasion of the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice or Eid al-Adha, an unusual move for the leader of a majority Christian nation.
According to the readout of the conversation, the two leaders also touched upon ongoing normalization talks aimed at restoring full diplomatic relations and reopening the land border between the two countries. Regional officials speaking not for attribution to Al-Monitor said that Pashinyan continues to believe that detente with Ankara is the best guarantee of fending off another full-scale attack by Azerbaijan and is courting Erdogan to that end. Armenian officials hope that former Turkish spy chief Hakan Fidan’s appointment as foreign minister will bring new impetus to the talks.
Pashinyan was among the first leaders to congratulate Erdogan over his May victory in twin polls that saw his right-wing alliance win a majority in parliament as well.
According to protocol, Armenia’s president, Vahagn Khatchaturyan, should have attended Erdogan’s extravagant inauguration bash. However, Pashinyan elbowed him aside and showed up instead.