EU welcomes Turkish president effort to improve Turkey-Armenia ties

Xinhua General News Service
September 4, 2008 Thursday 8:25 PM EST

EU welcomes Turkish president’s effort to improve Turkey-Armenia ties


The European Commission, the European Union (EU)’s executive arm, on
Thursday welcomed Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s latest effort to
improve Turkey’s relations with Armenia, with which Ankara has no
diplomatic ties.

In a statement, European Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn hailed
Gul’s decision to attend the football World Cup qualifying match
between Armenia and Turkey in Armenian capital Yerevan on Saturday,
calling it an "important first step" toward normalization of ties
between the two countries.

"I hope that President Gul’s important first step will be soon
followed by others that lead to a full normalization of relations
between these two countries, which would enhance stability in the
region and prepare the ground for strengthened regional cooperation. "

"The crisis in Georgia has underlined the importance of good
neighborly relations in the region, including Turkish-Armenian
relations," he added.

According to a report by Turkish Daily News on Wednesday, Gul will
travel to Yerevan at the invitation of Armenian President Serge
Sarkisian, which is seen as a goodwill gesture.

Ankara believes that Armenia wants to improve its ties with Turkey and
seeks progress in secret direct talks initiated after Sarkisian’s
election victory last April, said the report.

However, whether Gul’s visit will open the door to the normalization
of relations, depends on how the Turkish president is received in
Yerevan, the report said.

Though Turkey recognized Armenia soon after its independence, there
has been no formal diplomatic relations between them currently.

Armenia has claimed that up to 1.5 million Armenians died as a result
of "mass killing" during the Turkish Ottoman period between 1915 and
1923, but Turkey categorically rejects the "mass killing" accusation.

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