Armenian foreign minister says Turkey far from ready for EU

Armenian foreign minister says Turkey far from ready for EU

The Associated Press
10/11/04 15:32 EDT

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) – Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian
lashed out at longtime foe Turkey on Monday, saying that the nation
was not ready to begin talks on entering the European Union.

Oskanian contended that compared to EU member states and nations
hoping to join, Turkey lags behind on economic development, democratic
principles and relations with its neighbors.

The EU’s head office recommended last week that the 25-nation bloc
open membership talks with Turkey.

Oskanian said he hopes those talks include discussions of Turkey’s
relations with Armenia, the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border,
and Turkish acknowledgment of what Armenians say was the genocide of
up to 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923. Turks claim that
the number of deaths is inflated, and say the victims were killed in
civil unrest.

Armenia and Turkey, which do not have diplomatic relations, 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.

After a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on
the sidelines of a NATO summit in June, Oskanian had said he was
convinced that the Turkish government wanted to improve prospects
for resolving the countries’ differences.