ARMENIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR BETTER TIES WITH NEIGHBORING TURKEY
July 22 2008
Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan called on Monday for closer ties with
Turkey, 15 years after the two nations severed diplomatic relations
over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
They are also at odds over the question of whether ethnic Armenians
killed during the First World War were victims of genocide. Armenia
and Turkey broke off diplomatic links in 1993, when Ankara closed
the border and backed Azerbaijan during its war with Armenia over
the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a mainly ethnic Armenian enclave within
Azerbaijan. "The improvement of ties between Armenia and Turkey
is mutually beneficial. "I think we should improve our relations,"
Sarksyan told a news conference on Monday. "The important thing is that
in relations between Armenia and Turkey a trend is taking shape for
being ready to start a healthy discussion of the existing problems."
Sarksyan said earlier this month he had invited his Turkish
counterpart, Abdullah Gul, to visit Yerevan and watch a football match
in September. "The visit of Gul to Armenia could turn this trend into
a stable and positive movement," Sarksyan said, adding that Armenian
diplomats had recently met Turkish colleagues.
Armenian forces control the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenia and
Azerbaijan are involved in a long-running peace process but are
still officially at war over the mountainous area. The tiny ex-Soviet
republic of Armenia is sandwiched between Turkey and Azerbaijan in a
region that is emerging as an important transit route for oil exports
from the Caspian Sea to world markets, though Armenia has no pipelines
of its own. Armenia also wants Turkey to recognize what it calls a
systematic genocide during World War One.