Armenia Has No Preconditions To Normalize Ties With Turkey, FM Says


AP Worldstream
Published: Jun 25, 2007

Armenia’s foreign minister said Monday that his country was willing
to normalize relations with Turkey without any preconditions.

The foreign minister, Vartan Oskanian, told reporters at a regional
economic conference in Istanbul that Armenia wants to have "good
neighborly relations and open its borders" with Turkey.

The two countries do not have diplomatic relations because of a
historical dispute. Armenia says Turks killed up to 1.5 million
Armenians around the time of World War I, toward the end of the
Ottoman Empire, in what should be labeled genocide. Turkey says the
killings occurred at a time of civil conflict and that the casualty
figures are inflated.

"My key message today was that Armenia wants to see that border open,"
said Oskanian, who held a meeting with his Turkish counterpart,
Abdullah Gul.

The Armenian minister said the genocide issue was "deeply rooted in
the psyche" of his people, but was not an obstacle to having better

"Genocide recognition, although it’s in our political agenda to
pursue it, has never been a precondition to normalize the relations,"
Oskanian said.

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 during a war between
Armenia and Azerbaijan, a Muslim ally of Ankara. The move hurt the
economy of tiny, landlocked Armenia.

This year, Turkey lobbied against a proposed U.S. congressional
resolution that would recognize the killings of Armenians in the
last century as genocide. Some of Turkey’s 65,000 Armenian Orthodox
Christians say they endure harassment in Turkey, which has an
overwhelmingly Muslim population.

Hrant Dink, an ethnic Armenian journalist murdered in Istanbul in
January, was apparently targeted by nationalists. He had been an
advocate of minority rights and free expression.

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