TURKEY CALLS FOR CAUCASUS PEACE GROUP

press tv
Mon, 01 Sep 2008 00:47:23 GMT

The Caucasus comprises Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and south Russia.

Turkey has proposed the formation of a regional cooperation group to
stabilize the Caucasus region following the Georgia-Russia conflict.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said on Sunday that the proposed
group would include Turkey and four nearby Caucasus nations including
Russia, Georgia.

Babacan detailed the proposal during a visit to Turkey by Georgian
Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili, who said Georgia would only
consider joining such a group after Russian forces leave her country.

The Caucasia Cooperation and Stability Platform would also include
Armenia and Turkey's ally Azerbaijan, two South Caucasus nations that
are locked in a dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, Babacan said.

Nagorno-Karabakh has been under control of ethnic Armenian forces
since a six-year conflict that erupted in the waning days of the
Soviet Union. Some 30,000 people were killed and about 1 million
driven from their homes before a cease-fire was reached in 1994.

Persistent gunfire along the Azerbaijan-Armenian border and in regions
near Nagorno-Karabakh has raised fears of a new war. Turkey has no
diplomatic ties with Armenia and the Turkish-Armenian border has been
closed for years.

Turkey objects to Armenian forces' occupation of
Nagorno-Karabakh. While Armenia insists the deaths of about 1.5
million ethnic Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th
century should be recognized as genocide.

Turkey says the number is inflated and that killings were result of
civil war.

Babacan said he had discussed the cooperation group with his Azeri
counterpart, and that a Turkish delegation would visit Armenia this
week for talks about the proposed pact.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will also visit Turkey on
Tuesday to discuss Turkey's proposal, Babacan said.