The European Commission, the European Union (EU)'s executive arm, on Thursday welcomed Turkish President Abdullah Gul's latest effort to improve Turkey's relations with Armenia, with which Ankara has no diplomatic ties, reported PeopleOnline.
In a statement, European Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn hailed Gul's decision to attend the football World Cup qualifying match between Armenia and Turkey in Armenian capital Yerevan on Saturday, calling it an "important first step" toward normalization of ties between the two countries.
"I hope that President Gul's important first step will be soon followed by others that lead to a full normalization of relations between these two countries, which would enhance stability in the region and prepare the ground for strengthened regional cooperation. "
"The crisis in Georgia has underlined the importance of good neighborly relations in the region, including Turkish-Armenian relations," he added.
According to a report by Turkish Daily News on Wednesday, Gul will travel to Yerevan at the invitation of Armenian President Serge Sarkisian, which is seen as a goodwill gesture.
Ankara believes that Armenia wants to improve its ties with Turkey and seeks progress in secret direct talks initiated after Sarkisian's election victory last April, said the report.
However, whether Gul's visit will open the door to the normalization of relations, depends on how the Turkish president is received in Yerevan, the report said.
Though Turkey recognized Armenia soon after its independence, there has been no formal diplomatic relations between them currently.
Armenia has claimed that up to 1.5 million Armenians died as a result of "mass killing" during the Turkish Ottoman period between1915 and 1923, but Turkey categorically rejects the "mass killing" accusation.