15:57, 2 April, 2013

YEREVAN, APRIL 2, ARMENPRESS: Turkey has canceled the first ever
scheduled Turkish flights to its long-time rival Armenia, days before
the first plane was due to take off following fierce opposition
from Turkey's ally and energy partner Azerbaijan, reports Armenpress
citing Reuters.

The twice-weekly flights between Turkey's eastern city of Van and the
Armenian capital Yerevan were due to begin on April 3 and, encouraged
by a US push for rapprochement, were meant to boost bilateral tourism
and trade. But with just over a week until the first flight, and with
tickets already on sale, Turkey's civil aviation authority stepped
in and ordered the flights to be suspended.

According to News Agency, officials at Turkey's transport ministry
confirmed the flights had been stopped but declined to give a reason.

BoraJet, the private Turkish carrier set to fly the 45-minute route,
has also declined to comment on the stoppage. One BoraJet official
twice denied the Van-Yerevan flights had ever been planned, even
though the route was still available as a booking option on the firm's
website on Monday.

Narekavank Tour, a Yerevan-based travel agency which has spent the
last three years organizing the flights together with a Turkish travel
agency in Van, said Reuters that the reason was political.

"The organizers were keen on staying away from politics. It is very sad
and discouraging that Turkish authorities were not able to do the same
and finally let politics interfere with this promising initiative,"
it said in a statement.

Turkey, which has never opened an embassy in Armenia, closed its land
border in 1993 in a show of solidarity with Azerbaijan, a Muslim
and Turkic-speaking ally which also supplies Ankara with billions
of cubic meters of Caspian natural gas each year. Turkey has sought
to ease Azerbaijan's concerns over previous reconciliation moves by
Turkey and Armenia since rapprochement efforts have alarmed Azerbaijan
which first wants to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress