Today's Zaman
July 31 2009

Armenia has put aside its historical grievances and worked in goodwill
for reconciliation with Turkey and now expects Turkey to put aside
preconditions to advance peace talks, Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan
has said.

Sarksyan, speaking to a group of Armenian students from Russia,
Egypt, Georgia, Ukraine and Turkey, said his country has exerted
its best efforts despite the "Armenian genocide" to normalize
relations with neighboring Turkey, an Armenian news report said on
Friday. He complained that Armenia's goodwill was not reciprocated
by Turkey, which now appears to want to use the progress made to
normalize relations with Armenia to advance efforts to resolve the
Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

"Within past years we conducted negotiations, signed two documents,
still, some Turkish officials decided to set preconditions and link
Armenian-Turkish relations with [the Nagorno-Karabakh] issue," Sarksyan
was quoted as saying by the PanARMENIAN news portal. "We can't accept
preconditions ... Turkey has to understand no preconditions should
be set in [the] 21st century, as preconditions lead to counteraction."

Turkey and Armenia reported progress in their talks to restore
their relations in April and said they reached an agreement on a
road map on how to normalize their ties. But the process has become
complicated since then, as Azerbaijan, a close ally of Turkey,
protested the Turkish-Armenian talks. In a subsequent visit to Baku,
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan assured Azerbaijan that Turkey will
not open its borders with Armenia, which have been closed since 1993,
unless Armenia withdraws from Nagorno-Karabakh, a region occupied by
Armenian forces in a 1991 war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Earlier
this week, Sarksyan said he would not visit Turkey to watch a World
Cup qualifying game between national soccer teams of the two countries
in September if the border is still closed.

Responding to Sarksyan, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said
on Wednesday that the government was still committed to normalizing
relations with Armenia. "But at the same time, it is important for
us to see the same determination from the international community,
and especially from Armenia, on the conflict between Armenia and
Azerbaijan," he added.