EUbusiness, UK
June 28 2004

Troubled neighbors Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey pledge cooperation


Under pressure by NATO and the European Union, Armenia, Azerbaijan
and Turkey pledged on Monday to seek to resolve their tangled
disputes through trilateral meetings.

The foreign ministers of the three troubled neighbors, Vardan
Oskanian of Armenia, Elmar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and Abdullah Gul
of Turkey met on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Istanbul.

Emphasizing that both NATO and the EU were keen to stabilize the
conflict-torn Caucasian region, Gul told reporters after the meeting
that they had discussed "ways and means of cooperating to achieve
stability through constructive means."

He said he and his counterparts had agreed to hold further trilateral
meetings later in the year.

"We need to shape a new strategic vision for the Caucasus so that we
can keep pace with the developments around us," Oskanian said,
referring to the enlargement of the EU and NATO.

Mamedyarov added: "We will try to do our best to bring peace and
stability to the region."

Armenia and Azerbaijan are divided by a long-standing territorial
dispute over the enclave of Nagorny-Karabakh, for which they fought
in the early 1990s.

A close ally of Azerbaijan, Turkey has declined to establish
diplomatic ties with Armenia and remains bitter at Yerevan's efforts
to secure international condemnation of the killings of Armenians
under the Ottoman Empire during World War I as "genocide."

Ankara is under pressure by the EU, which it seeks to join, to
re-open its border with Armenia, which it closed in 1993 in a show of
solidarity with Baku.

Oskanian told reporters he had discussed the issue with Gul in a
bilateral meeting earlier in the day.

He said he was "very satisfied," with the meeting, but added that it
would be premature to expect an immediate re-opening of the border.