ANKARA, BAKU SEEK TO REPAIR DAMAGED TIES OVER ARMENIA DEALS

Hurriyet Daily News
Oct 21 2009
Turkey

Spectators at the recent Turkey-Armenia football match in Bursa unfurl
an Azerbaijani flag. DHA photo

Turkey and Azerbaijan, two natural allies, are attempting to repair
damaged ties at the same time as Turkey tries to normalize relations
with Armenia before withdrawing from occupied Azerbaijani lands.

Bickering over the use of flags has led to Turkish Foreign Minister
Ahmet Davutoglu deciding to take a trip to Baku on Thursday to reduce
the tension.

Diplomatic sources said Wednesday that the removal of the Turkish flag
from in front of a diplomatic mission was in breach of international
agreements and Turkey decided to officially protest it. Turkey's
ambassador to Baku brought forward the official protest.

Having said that, sources are confident that the two countries will
overcome this period of strain and will continue their cooperation
for providing regional stability.

Turkish and Azerbaijani presidents had a phone conversation Wednesday,
the Anatolia news agency reported. "The misunderstandings and
misperceptions brought about by some emotional reactions while we
were passing through hard times have been cleared," the Anatolia
agency reported.

It said Gul first informed his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev
about his earlier phone conversation with leaders from the United
States and Russia about the efforts to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh
issue. "Gul and Aliyev confirmed that impressions that ties between
Turkey and Azerbaijan were weakened was not good for both countries,"
the agency reported.

Reports in the press said Azerbaijan overreacted to Turkey's
reconciliation process with Armenia and the protocols to establish
diplomatic ties and open the border. Azerbaijani officials removed
Turkish flags at the martyrdom monument as well as in front of a
Turkish diplomatic mission. The flags at the monument were replace
Tuesday, reports said. Azerbaijani press argued it was reciprocity for
the Turkish ban on Azerbaijani flags during the Turkey-Armenia World
Cup qualifying football match last week but the decision to ban the
flags came from the International Federation of Association Football,
or FIFA, and not the Turkish officials.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu decided to attend to an unimportant
Black Sea Economic Cooperation, or KEÄ°, meeting in Baku on Thursday.

He is expected to meet with his counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov and to
be received by President Aliyev.

Azerbaijan also tried to play its energy card and hinted that it
would seek optional routes to carry its gas and oil to Europe to
bypass Turkey.