The proposal by Turkey's prime minister, made in the Turkish daily Milliyet on Friday, "does not contain anything new", said Armenian presidential spokesman Viktor Sogomonyan on Saturday.

 

"We have proposed to establish diplomatic relations without preconditions, and examine outstanding issues between our two countries within the framework of an inter-governmental commission," Sogomonyan said.

 

Armenia insists the killings of Armenians by the Turkish Ottoman empire during the first world war was a genocide and has refused to restart relations conditional on agreeing to review what it says is fact.

 

Pressure

 

Turkey, which denies a genocide was committed, has been opening up on the subject under pressure from the European Union ahead of negotiations on its membership in the bloc.

 

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Milliyet that Turkey might establish political ties if Armenia agreed to his proposal for investigating the events.

 

"Political relations might be established on one side and studies (about killings) can continue on the other side," the paper quoted Erdogan as saying.

 

Erdogan invited Armenia to set
up a joint research committee

In early April, Erdogan invited Armenia to set up a joint research committee.

 

Kocharian responded by saying ties should be formed first, according to Turkish newspapers.

 

Armenians say about 1.5 million of their people were killed as the Ottoman empire forced them from eastern Turkey between 1915 and 1923 in a deliberate campaign of genocide.

 

Turkey says the death count is inflated and insists that Armenians were killed or displaced in the civil unrest during the collapse of the Ottoman empire.

 

Meanwhile, the head of the Armenian national archives, Amatuni Virabyan, on Saturday said that the first Turk to be allowed to carry out research there, Ektan Turkyelmaz, from Duke University in the US state of North Carolina, would begin work on Monday.