Today's Zaman, Turkey
Aug 18 2008

Ankara's Caucasus initiative to gain impetus this week

The Turkish capital's initiative to establish a regional stability and
cooperation platform to resolve crises in the Caucasus will move
forward this week, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoÄ?an
being expected to pay a visit to neighboring Azerbaijan for talks
aimed at implementing this initiative.

ErdoÄ?an last week paid a visit to Moscow and Tbilisi, the
capitals of Russia and Georgia, countries involved in a regional
conflict which led to great concern over stability in the world as
well as concerns over energy supply security. Speaking at a press
conference upon his return on Thursday evening, ErdoÄ?an said
Turkey also wanted Azerbaijan to participate in the platform for
regional peace and security, adding that economic cooperation and
energy security were essential issues for the body.

"The platform will be discussed next week during a visit to Baku. We
hope that Azerbaijan will accept it and that the new cooperation
platform will help in settling ethnic conflicts in the region,"
ErdoÄ?an said at the time, also giving a green light to
Armenia's participation in a 'Caucasus alliance' as it would greatly
increase the stability of the region.

ErdoÄ?an's visit to Baku is likely to take place on Tuesday,
Today's Zaman has learned.

The prime minister also said that Babacan would meet with his Russian
counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, this week to jump start the process and
launch talks to develop the idea further. As of yesterday, Foreign
Ministry sources were not immediately available to comment on whether
a visit by Babacan to Moscow or a visit by Lavrov to Ankara was being
planned for this week.

As of yesterday, the Foreign Ministry announced in a written statement
a series of telephone conversations initiated by Foreign Minister Ali
Babacan concerning the developments in Georgia.

Over the last two days, Babacan had talks with US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice; EU term president France's Foreign Minister Bernard
Kouchner; German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier; Council of
Europe term president Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt; and
Alexander Stubb, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe (OSCE) chairman-in-office and Finnish foreign minister, the
statement said.

The ministry announced separately yesterday that Babacan will depart
for Brussels today to participate in a key meeting of NATO foreign
ministers who are to have emergency talks to reconsider the alliance's
ties with Russia after the conflict in Georgia.

The meeting, which is to take place in the middle of Europe's
traditional summer break, was called by the US.

18 August 2008, Monday