Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Turkey says normalization talks with Armenia are underway

June 24, 2009
Hurriyet Daily News

ISTANBUL - The talks aimed at the normalization of relations between Ankara and Yerevan continue at various levels, a Turkish foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday, ruling out recent reports suggesting the suspension of the agreed road map with Armenia.

"We are discussing all issues with Armenia, and what is important is principles we set," Anatolian Agency quoted spokesperson Burak Ozugergin as telling a press conference in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

Ozugergin said there was also an ongoing process between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and both processes were affecting each other.

Turkey and Armenia agreed in April on a "road map" deal for U.S.-backed talks that could lead to the normalization of ties and the opening of their border, which Ankara closed in a show of support to Baku in 1993 after Armenian occupation of Azeri territories in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Turkish officials, however, have said Turkey will not open its border with Armenia before the neighboring country ends its occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, reassuring Azeri leaders that Ankara's efforts to reconcile with Yerevan would not undermine the country's interests.

Recent media reports questioned further progress in talks between Turkey and Armenia. Even EU South Caucasus envoy Peter Semneby said in an interview published last week Turkey has taken a "tactical step backwards" on normalizing relations with Armenia because of fierce domestic reaction to the move.

Ozugergin said the road map would be made public when the conditions are suitable, adding he had already said that the two countries have agreed on some principles.
He said Turkey was supporting a solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute through peaceful means, and a positive course of the process would contribute to peace and stability in the Caucasus.

The spokesman also said Turkey would support any positive development or step in the Minsk process.

"Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem will restore stability in the region, and make it sustainable," Ozugergin said.

Ozugergin also said Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu might meet foreign ministers of other countries, including his Armenian counterpart Eduard Nalbandian, on the Greek island of Corfu during an informal meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, this weekend.

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