Erdogan: Opening Of Borders Depends On Armenia's Attitude

Anadolu Agency
29 Oct. 2004

BAKU - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday,
"Turkey has been defending from the very beginning that a solution
should be found to the Upper Karabakh dispute under territorial
integrity of Azerbaijan from the very beginning. Meanwhile, opening
of borders between Turkey and Armenia depends on Armenia's attitude."

In an interview with Azerbaijani Three Points newspaper, Prime Minister
Erdogan said, "there are some obstacles in front of normalization of
Turkey-Armenia relations and opening of borders. Ignorance of official
borders by Armenia, Armenia's efforts for recognition of so-called
Armenian genocide, and long-standing historical problems between
Turkey and Armenia have been affecting our relations negatively."

"Armenia's maintaining its occupying policy against all resolutions of
the UN for Upper Karabakh also has a negative impact on our bilateral
relations. In order to normalize those relations, Armenia should
set good neighborly relations with Turkey and the other regional
countries," he said.


"There have been historic cultural and social relations between Turkey
and Azerbaijan. Our bilateral relations have reached to a perfect level
in only 14 years after Azerbaijan acquired its independence," he said.

Prime Minister Erdogan noted that the bilateral relations would
further improve after the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline
project was put into force, adding, "other energy projects will bring
our relations to the level of strategic partnership."

Referring to Turkish-Azeri economic relations, Erdogan said that
"although political relations between the two countries are excellent,
economic ties are not at a satisfactory level."

"The annual trade volume between Turkey and Azerbaijan is only about
430 million U.S. dollars. This is not an amount that makes us happy.
There need to be progress made in the areas of customs and taxation
as well as banking between the two countries."


Referring to Turkey's EU membership process, Prime Minister Erdogan
said, "we expect the EU to make a decision at its summit on December
17th to open entry talks with Turkey. In that case, accession
negotiations will start in 2005. The negotiation process will be
difficult and take a long time. The process will entail us to work
hard. The process also requires adequate financial source."

"We are planning to fulfil entry talks in 2010 and reach our target of
EU full membership. Turkey's membership will have positive impacts in
economy, politics and culture in Europe. Turkey will make a valuable
contribution to the EU in energy. Also, the EU's influence in the
Islam world will increase with membership of Turkey," Prime Minister
Erdogan added.