Report: Direct flights from Van to Yerevan to kick off in April

March 15, 2013, Friday/ 01:14:00

Direct flights between the Turkish city of Van and Armenian capital Yerevan will kick off on April 3, heralding a thaw in Turkey-Armenia tension as the two countries have had no diplomatic relations for the past two decades.

In remarks to the Armenian ARKA news agency, Chairman of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Armenia Arsen Ghazaryan said the flights are expected to boost regional tourism and bolster economic ties.

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in an act of solidarity with ethnic kin in Azerbaijan during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which claimed some 30,000 lives.

Ankara has set an Armenian withdrawal from the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is still under Yerevan's occupation, as a precondition for normalization in bilateral relations.

Armenia has held the mountainous enclave under its occupation since 1992 and refuses to withdraw its armed forces. The issue has been one of the major sources of regional instability and threatens peace in the volatile region amid constant bickering between Baku and Yerevan.

Despite efforts at reconciliation, Ankara and Yerevan have failed to reach a compromise and the borders remain closed.

The first flight between the Van and Yerevan is scheduled for April 3.

Speaking to the news agency, Ghazaryan said the first Armenia-Turkey tourism association has been established and several business forums conducted.