BAKU: Aliyev rules out NK solution if Turkey opens Armenian border

Azeri leader rules out Karabakh solution if Turkey opens Armenian border

ANS TV, Baku
24 Mar 04

[Correspondent at Baku’s Heydar Aliyev airport] Mr President [Ilham
Aliyev], the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border has recently been
on the agenda. The issue became topical again after Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the USA. Is there any option
on the agenda? Are you aware of these issues as Azerbaijan’s
president? Can we assume that Turkey will take such a step?

[Ilham Aliyev speaking to microphone] I do not want to make assumptions.
I talked to Mr Erdogan on this subject when I visited Ankara as prime
minister. The prime minister and Foreign Minister [Abdullah] Gul
reassured me that Turkey will never open its border with Armenia until
the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict is resolved. This is enough for me. I
do not need any other explanation if I heard this myself. But I should
say that the European Union and some other fairly influential
countries in the world are exerting strong pressure on Turkey to make
it open the border. I have repeatedly told the meetings with relevant
sides that a Nagornyy Karabakh resolution will be generally impossible
if Turkey opens its border with Armenia. Because Azerbaijan will have
lost an important lever and then peaceful negotiations will generally
fail. This will stop the negotiations and lead to unpleasant
results. For this reason, if the sides interested in the issue want a
peaceful solution to the problem, then they should not put pressure on
Turkey. Turkey is a big and strong state. I am convinced that Turkey
will cope with all this pressure. Turkish-Azerbaijani fraternity is
above everything for us and the Turkish people.