Humanitarian aid sent by Armenia for victims of the devastating earthquake in Turkey on February 6 could boost the neighbouring countries’ efforts to normalise their relations, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on February 15.
For the first time in 35 years, a border gate between the long-feuding neighbours was opened to allow aid for quake victims in southern Turkey. Armenia also sent a rescue team to Turkey to help in the search for survivors.
“Armenia has extended its hand of friendship, showed solidarity and cooperation with us in this difficult time … We need to continue this solidarity,” Cavusoglu said at a joint news conference in Ankara with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan.
Turkey’s special envoy for Armenia, Serdar Kilic, tweeted photos of trucks passing through the Alican checkpoint at the Turkish side of the Aras river separating the two countries. “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,” Kilic said, thanking Armenian officials. Anadolu said the crossing was last used to send aid from the Turkish Red Crescent to earthquake-hit Armenia in 1988.
Turkey and Armenia are at odds mainly over the 1.5 million people Armenia says were killed in 1915 by the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor to modern Turkey.