ERDOGAN: ARMENIA TALKS LINKED TO KARABAKH SETTLEMENT

Today's Zaman
April 15 2010
Turkey

Maintaining regional peace is among the fundamental elements of
Armenia and Turkey's efforts for normalization of their relations,
thus the resolution of a territorial dispute between Armenia and
Azerbaijan is naturally linked to this process, Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan has asserted.

Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan and Erdogan held a rare bilateral
meeting in Washington on Monday on the sidelines of a two-day nuclear
security summit hosted by US President Barack Obama. The two leaders
didn't release any joint statement after the meeting. In remarks
delivered at a gathering of the Armenian community, Sarksyan made
clear that his country would not accept Turkey's imposition of the
resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute as a precondition.

Speaking to reporters late on Tuesday during the inauguration in
Washington of "The Ottoman Worldview from Piri Reis to Katip Celebi,"
an exhibition of maps depicting the Ottoman worldview from Piri Reis to
Katip Celebi, who made some of the most significant contributions to
Ottoman geography and cartography, Erdogan was reminded of Sarksyan's
remarks.

Two protocols signed between Armenia and Turkey in Zurich in October
to establish diplomatic ties and re-open their border includes the
words "without precondition," Erdogan first of all noted, adding:
"There is a very important expression next to the expression of
'without precondition': Building regional peace. Can you push
Azerbaijan aside while building this regional peace?"

Recalling that Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in
solidarity with Azerbaijan over the disputed enclave, Erdogan said an
agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh was essential for opening the border
and reiterated his call on the Minsk Group of the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to intensify its efforts.

The Minsk Group, the three co-chairs of which are France, Russia
and the US, has striven to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,
a territorial dispute between Baku and Yerevan, for more than 17 years.

"Today we spoke about these issues with [Russian President] Mr.
[Dmitry] Medvedev," Erdogan said, adding that he had also spoken about
the issue with French President Nicolas Sarkozy during an official
visit to Paris last week.

In response to a question, Erdogan said no date had been set for
parliamentary ratification of the protocols, while indicating that
parliamentary approval would be encouraged after Turkey sees some
positive signs concerning the process. He didn't name it but he was
most probably referring to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

In the US capital, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had separate talks
concerning the normalization process with his Armenian counterpart,
Edward Nalbandian, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

April 24 Erdogan, who had a lengthy meeting with Obama earlier on
Tuesday, told reporters that he still believed Obama will not use the
g-word on April 24, the day Armenians claim marks the anniversary of
the beginning of a systematic genocide campaign against Anatolian
Armenians in the last years of the Ottoman Empire. "Personally,
I don't expect such a thing," he said. "I believe the necessary
messages have been mutually taken," he said of the meeting with Obama.