Turkey Again Links Armenia Ties With Karabagh Concessions


YEREVAN (RFE/RL and A1 Plus) — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told reporters that his country “cannot adopt a positive attitude” toward Armenia unless it “withdraws from occupied Azerbaijani territories.”

Erdogan emphasized that an internationally-brokered agreement on the disputed Nagorno-Karabagh territory is critical to the ratification by the Turkish parliament of the Turkey-Armenia protocols on closer relations, signed on October 10 in Zurich.

If passed by the Turkish and Armenian parliaments, Ankara and Yerevan would restore diplomatic relations and reopen their border, which has been sealed since 1993, RFE/RL’s Armenian Service reports.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters on October 11 that Armenian forces should withdraw “not only in Karabagh but also the seven Azerbaijani districts adjacent to Nagorno-Karabagh that are under occupation.”

The comments came hours after Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry criticized Turkey for sealing the deal with Armenia that Baku said “clouds the spirit of brotherly relations” between the two Turkic-speaking countries and is in “directcontradiction to the national interests of Azerbaijan.”

Yerevan has not directly responded to Erdogan’s statement, but Armenian President Serge Sargisian implicitly threatened to walk away from the agreements if Ankara fails to complete the ratification process “within a reasonable time frame.”

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Deputy Foreign Minister of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR) Vardan Barseghyan in an interview said he considers any discussion on territories as nonsensical.

“We must first discuss the cause and then the effects. The first thing we must do is to solve the issue related to the status of the NKR. The Nagorno-Karabagh Republic’s position remains unchanged and that is that the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict can’t be settled without the participation of the NKR. If Azerbaijan truly wants to settle the conflict, it must be ready to sit down and negotiate with the NKR. No decision will be acceptable for the NKR without our participation,” said Barseghyan.

He mentioned that the territories on which different interpretations are made make up the territory of the NKR, which is established by the NKR Constitution. The Deputy Foreign Minister of the NKR expresses gratitude to the RA authorities for representing the interests of the NKR during the talks, but he also stated that that is not enough for the conflict settlement.

“Of course, it is better to negotiate than to wage a war, but any resolution of the conflict is excluded without the participation of the NKR.

Barseghyan said Karabagh must express its viewpoints and Azerbaijan is the one that must be the first to hear those viewpoints. “The current format of negotiations goes to show that Azerbaijan is not ready for the resolution of the conflict. The negotiations process doesn’t include the prerequisites for real progress. Azerbaijan and the NKR lack mutual confidence and Azerbaijan is to blame for that. Azerbaijan currently rejects any contact with the NKR.” Despite the process of negotiations, the Deputy Foreign Minister says that independence is not a matter of discussion. “We only face the issue of international recognition.”

Touching upon the protocols and their impact on Karabagh, Barseghyan said: “Of course we are interested in Turkey’s interest in the conflict resolution. As you know, to this day, Turkey has had a negative impact on the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict and has acted for the benefit of Azerbaijan. However, we are in favor of having good relations with all countries of the region and to have open borders.”

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