ANKARA: Azerbaijan, Turkey not to sour ties over KKTC seat rejection

Turkish Daily News
May 7 2004

Azerbaijan, Turkey not to sour ties over KKTC seat rejection

Azeri Foreign Ministry says attitude of Azeri deputies at the Council
of Europe Parliamentary Assembly does not reflect their country’s
stance on Cyprus while Foreign Minister Gul calls on people not to
rake up the issue

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said the attitude and statements of
Azeri deputies at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly did
not reflect their country’s policy on Cyprus, following rejection of
a resolution to grant seats for Turkish Cypriot deputies after Azeri
parliamentarians didn’t attend the voting.
The statement released by the Azeri Foreign Ministry on Wednesday
emphasized the friendly and historical ties between the two
countries, adding, “It is not true that the bilateral relations have
been damaged due to the fact that some Azeri deputies did not attend
the voting.”

The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly rejected a draft
resolution on April 29 designed to allow deputies from Turkish
Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), which lacks international
recognition, to attend and participate in the assembly’s meetings.

The reversal came after eight deputies from Azerbaijan, which
previously pledged strong support for efforts to end isolation of
Turkish Cypriots, did not attend the voting.

Instead, the assembly voted on an amendment proposal which called for
closer relations with Turkish Cypriot parliamentarians in the body
and which envisaged placing Turkish Cypriot parliamentarians among
the Greek Cypriot delegation within the Council.

Head of the Azeri delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe said earlier this week that the Azeri deputies had
consciously avoided to attend, explaining that the success of the
draft resolution would have set a dangerous precedence that could
later allow Armenian deputies from Nagorno-Karabakh to attend Council
of Europe meetings.

Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, has been under
Armenian invasion since the beginning of the last decade.

The Azeri position sparked huge disappointment and reaction
especially among the Turkish media.

“The attitude of the Azeri deputies should not be interpreted as a
sign of a shift in political relations between the brother countries
of Turkey and Azerbaijan,” read the statement.

It was also noted that Azerbaijan has always been in favor of a
solution on the divided island of Cyprus.

A U.N. plan to reunify the island was defeated in twin referenda at
the end of last month due to a strong Greek Cypriot rejection
although Turkish Cypriots voted overwhelmingly in favor of a united

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said the no-show of the Azeri deputies
was to be blamed on poor coordination between Turkish and Azeri
delegations and added that the Azeri delegation should have been
better informed on the vote.

Gul advises calm
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul advised calm on the matter.
Replying to questions prior to leaving for Dublin for a
EU-Mediterranean meeting on Wednesday, he said Turkey had some
expectations from “friend and brother countries,” referring to

Recalling the rejection of the resolution, Gul went on to say, “The
only point I feel sorry about is that this resolution has been the
best one in favor of Turkish Cypriots to date. It seemed as if there
happened something against the Turkish Cypriots. However, there is
nothing like that.”

Gul called on people not to rake up the Azeri’s not attending the
voting, saying, “There is no need to further sadden people from both
countries by meddling with the issue too much. Everyone should derive
lessons from this.”

“I hope the Azeri deputies’ move was not done on purpose. Now, we
expect more support in the coming meetings. What happened has
happened,” Gul added.