Turkey has closed its airspace to flights by Armenian aircraft carrying high-ranking officials, including Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, to third countries, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday.
“Every day, flights were conducted through the Turkish airspace. Now we have closed [it]. We have closed it for VIP-persons as well, let them not get offended. We closed it for Pashinyan’s plane, too. Only the speaker of the Armenian parliament came to take part in the PANSEC summit [in Ankara]. We hosted the summit, that is why we could not close [the airspace] for a member of the organization,” Cavusoglu said in an interview with the Turkish 24TV.
On April 29, Turkey canceled the permission previously granted to the FlyOne Armenia airline to operate flights to Europe through the Turkish airspace. On May 3, Cavusoglu confirmed that the airspace was closed for flights from Armenia, saying that he did not exclude additional measures.
The move came after a monument to the participants of Operation Nemesis — the code-name for a covert operation carried out in the 1920s to kill the Turkish masterminds of the 1915 Armenian genocide — was unveiled in Yerevan. One of the people killed under the operation was Mehmed Talaat, commonly known as Talaat Pasha, the former interior minister of the Ottoman Empire.
The developments come amid the already tense relations between the two countries, the root cause of their estrangement being Turkey’s opposition to the international recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.
The 1915 Armenian Genocide has been recognized by 34 countries to date, including Russia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and the United States, as well as by the European Parliament and the World Council of Churches. According to estimates, 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the Ottoman Empire in the early 1900s.
Turkey has repeatedly denied the accusations of genocide, claiming that the killings were part of hostilities during World War I.