Armenian Minister: Turks Want Closer Ties

Associated Press
June 30 2004

Armenian Minister: Turks Want Closer Ties

Associated Press Writer

Armenia’s foreign minister said Wednesday that a brief meeting with
the Turkish leader at this week’s NATO summit convinced him that
relations could improve between the uneasy neighbors with a dark

Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian spoke for 10 minutes with Turkish
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the two-day
summit that ended Tuesday in Istanbul.

“During that meeting I was again convinced that the current Turkish
government sincerely wants to achieve a change for the better in
resolving relations with Armenia,” Oskanian said, without

The summit was attended by numerous leaders from non-NATO member
states like Armenia. President Robert Kocharian had refused to
attend, saying that he was dissatisfied with his country’s relations
with Turkey. He sent his foreign minister instead.

Armenia and Turkey do not have diplomatic relations, although the
Turks recently have expressed a willingness to improve the situation
between the two countries.

Armenians accuse Turks of a genocide of up to 1.5 million Armenians
between 1915 and 1923. Turks claim the number of deaths is inflated
and say the victims were killed in civil unrest.

The two countries also are at odds over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region
within Azerbaijan that has been under ethnic Armenian control since a
war that ended in 1994 without a political settlement.

Turkey, which shares close ethnic ties with Azerbaijan and supported
that nation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, has maintained an
economic blockade of Armenia, hobbling development in this landlocked
former Soviet republic.

Oskanian said that he also discussed the possibility of resuming
railroad service between the two nations during a separate meeting
his with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul.

Oskanian noted, however, that despite gradually developing ties with
Turkey, Armenia would object to Turkey “pretending to be an impartial
mediator” in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Oskanian also said he held discussions Wednesday with the U.S.
administration about Armenia’s intention to veto a proposal that
would give Turkey the acting chairmanship of the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2007.

Armenia thinks the role can only be filled by a nation that has
diplomatic relations with all the OSCE’s member states, Oskanian
said, but he added that talks were still being held on the issue.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress