Anatolia News Agency, Turkey
Aug 31 2008

Turkish president says no decision on Armenian visit yet

Ankara, 31 August: Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who
attended the 30 August victory reception hosted at the Gazi officer's
club in Ankara, signalled Saturday that President Abdullah Gul might
travel to Armenia.

Commenting on the possibility of President Abdullah Gul's travelling
to Armenia for a national soccer match after decades of no diplomatic
exchange with this country, Erdogan said he wished it would bring
positive results, hinting that the president might have actually
decided to accept invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsian.

Erdogan also said Turkey's Foreign Minister Ali Babacan would
accompany Gul during the trip to discuss relations with Armenia.

However, Gul, who also attended the reception, told reporters that
they did not reach a decision on the matter yet saying that they were
still contemplating.

Armenian President Sargsian, who publicly declared that he would
shortly take steps to revive relations with Turkey, has recently
invited his Turkish counterpart Gul to Armenia to watch together the
2010 World Cup qualifying round game between the two countries on 6

Yerivan based Mediamax news agency quoted Sargsian as having said this
game "would contribute to normalisation of relations between the two
countries," during a visit to Moscow in June.

On 24 July, Babacan expressed Turkey's willingness to normalize
relations with Armenia at a press conference in New York, saying that
Turkey also wanted to create an atmosphere of dialogue with Armenia.

Referring to letters Turkish president, prime minister and other high
level officials sent to their Armenian counterparts shortly after the
recent elections in this country, Babacan had announced that these
letters aimed at opening a new door of dialogue with the new
(Armenian) administration.

Babacan said it was natural for Turkey - whose aim was to have zero
problems with its neighbours - to expect concrete steps from Armenia
and expressed his belief that Turkey's problems could be solved
through dialogue, and underlined importance of setting up a joint
committee of historians to deal with the incidents of 1915.

Later in July, Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian told
Mediamax that they wanted to normalise relations with
Turkey. Nalbandian said to this end they wished Gul would accept
Sargsian's invitation to watch the qualifier in Yerevan, adding that
it would create an opportunity to discuss bilateral relations.

Nalbandian said Armenia took a step by inviting Gul. "This initiative
received positive response in the international arena. Now it is
Turkey's turn."