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Moscow Says It's Ready To Help Armenia, Turkey Normalize Relations.

Russia says it is prepared to mediate efforts to repair relations between Armenia and Turkey following reports earlier this week of a request by Yerevan to facilitate such a rapprochement.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a press briefing on November 25 that a normalization between the neighbors "would undoubtedly contribute to the improvement of the general situation in the region."

Former Soviet republics Armenia and Azerbaijan fought an intense six-week conflict last year over breakaway Azerbaijani territory in and around Nagorno-Karabakh that had been under ethnic Armenian control for decades amid a "frozen conflict."

A Russian-brokered cease-fire in November 2020 ended the worst of the fighting and fixed in place major Azerbaijani gains, established corridors of access, and left Russian peacekeepers on the ground.

The Kremlin this week announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin would host Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev for talks in Sochi on November 26, amid a small flareup of violence between the South Caucasus neighbors.

With Armenian-Turkish relations already bitter over the Turkish role in the mass killings of Armenians near the end of World War I, Turkey was seen as a major ally and provider of military advice and weapons to Baku in that conflict.

Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vahan Hunanian told RFE/RL this week that Yerevan had informed Moscow that it was ready for normalization with Ankara without preconditions and asked for its mediation in the process.

"Our country is ready to further promote this process [of Armenian-Turkish rapprochement] in every possible way," Russian spokeswoman Zakharova said. "The launch of this process, as we believe, would undoubtedly contribute to the improvement of the general situation in the region."

She added that Russia was "taking all measures to restore economic ties and transport links in the region."

Pashinian and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exchanged public statements in August citing reciprocal "positive signals" for normalizing relations after decades of feuding over historical events, including the Ottoman-era massacres that dozens of countries regard as the first genocide of the 20th century.

On November 23, Pashinian reiterated Yerevan's readiness to normalize its relations with Ankara.

But he warned that such a process could not take place if Turkey pressed conditions like Azerbaijan's acquisition of an extraterritorial corridor to Azerbaijan's western Naxcivan exclave via Armenia.

"We want to normalize our relations with Turkey," Pashinian said. "We cannot discuss any corridor issue. But we want to discuss opening of regional transport links."

In an interview earlier this month with Le Figaro, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan accused Ankara of setting new conditions for a dialogue with Yerevan, including such a corridor, which he called unacceptable.

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