Turkey says that its border with Armenia could reopen by the end of the year, under a plan to reestablish diplomatic ties between the two nations.

In an interview with Turkey's NTV television Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that if everything goes as planned and mutual steps are taken, the border could reopen by January 1.

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in solidarity with Azerbaijan, which was fighting Armenian-backed separatists in its breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh territory.

Davutoglu says Turkey will not take any action that would hurt the interest of Azerbaijan.

Azeri Foreign Ministry spokesman Elkhan Polukhov says he is confident that Turkey will not reopen the border until the conflict is resolved.

On Monday, Turkey and Armenia issued a joint statement saying they will begin six weeks of internal consultations before signing two protocols on normalizing diplomatic relations and developing bilateral ties.

The legislatures of both nations must ratify the documents.

Both the United States and the European Union have welcomed the move and urged the two countries to quickly implement the protocols.

Relations between Turkey and Armenia have long been strained, overshadowed by the killing of Armenians early in the last century by the Ottoman-era Turkish military. 

Historians estimate that 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman regime during World War I.  Turkey strongly denies the charge of genocide.  It says the number of Armenian deaths is inflated, and those killed died during a civil war that also killed many Turks.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.