The News International, Pakistan
Jan 18 2009


Sunday, January 18, 2009


ANKARA: Turkey's foreign minister has warned Barack Obama's incoming
administration that any US recognition of Armenian claims regarding
the 1915 incidents could derail reconciliation efforts between the two
neighbours.

`It would not be very rational for a third country to take a position
on this issue... A wrong step by the United States will harm the
process,' the Anatolia news agency quoted Ali Babacan as saying late
on Friday.

Turkey has `never been closer' to normalising ties with Armenia, its
eastern neighbour, and a breakthrough could be secured in 2009, the
minister said, according to the AFP.

Obama, who takes office on Tuesday, pledged to his Armenian-American
supporters during his election campaign to recognize the 1915
incidents as `genocide'.

The issue of 1915 incidents is highly sensitive for Armenia as well as
Turkey. Around 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks, died in
civil strife that emerged when Armenians took up arms, backed by
Russia, for independence in eastern Anatolia.

However Armenia, with the backing of the diaspora, claims up to 1.5
million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings in
1915. The issue remains unsolved as Armenia drags its feet in
accepting Turkey's proposal of forming a commission to investigate the
claims.

Babacan said the dispute was among the issues that Ankara and Yereven
had been discussing since reconciliation efforts gathered steam in
September when Turkish President Abdullah Gul paid a landmark visit to
Armenia, AFP reported citing Anatolian Agency's report.

Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic relations and their border has
been closed for more than a decade, as Armenia presses the
international community to admit the so-called `genocide' claims
instead of accepting Turkey's call to investigate the allegations, and
Armenia's invasion of 20 percent territory of Azerbaijan.

The fence-mending process, he said, was boosted by similar
reconciliation efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a close ally of
Turkey.

`The prospect of normalising relations both between Azerbaijan and
Armenia and between Turkey and Armenia in 2009 is not a dream,' he
added.

Gul became the first Turkish head of state to visit Armenia when he
travelled to Yerevan in September to watch a World Cup qualifying
football match between the two countries on the invitation of his
Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress