Turkey, Armenia resume first flights in two years

Historic rivals Turkey and Armenia on Feb. 2 resumed their first commercial flights in two years as part of cautious efforts to warm their frozen ties.

Armenia and Turkey have no diplomatic relations, a closed land border and a deep-seated hostility rooted in the 1915 events. 

But in December, the two countries appointed special envoys to normalize relations, spurred by support from regional powerbroker Russia and Armenia's arch-foe Azerbaijan.

The push came a year after Azerbaijan used the help of Turkish combat drones to recapture most of the territory it lost to Armenians in a 1990s war in the occupied region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The special envoys met in Moscow last month for a "constructive" first round of talks

The neighbors agreed to resume flights at around the same time.

The first flight operated by the low-cost carrier FlyOne Armenia landed in a cold and drizzly Istanbul to a warm reception from airport officials, who welcomed passengers with flowers and chocolates.

"We think these flights are important for preserving ties between the Armenian community in Istanbul and Armenia," FlyOne's Armenia chief executive Aram Ananyan told reporters after disembarking the flight.

An overwhelming majority of the 50,000-70,000 Armenians in Turkey live in Istanbul, a megalopolis of 16 million people.

A flight run by Turkey's Pegasus Airlines took off from another Istanbul airport for Yerevan a few hours later, watched by a swarm of Turkish and Azerbaijani reporters.

"I see Armenia and Turkey as brothers: one part of our family is here as the other is in Armenia," Turkish passenger Sezar Yıldırım said before boarding in Istanbul.

Fellow traveller Narin Ayvazian, an Armenian living in Turkey...

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