Azerbaijan Threatens To Cut Gas To Turkey Over Armenia Deal


2009/04 /02 | 12:54

Region politics

Concerned that the Turkish government might open its border with
Armenia before reconciliation is reached, the Azerbaijani government
has signaled it might stop selling natural gas to Turkey, this
according to Hurriyet DailyNews.Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev
told third parties that Baku would cut gas supplies to Turkey if
Ankara reaches an agreement with Yerevan before substantial progress
is underway on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, the Hurriyet Daily
News & Economic Review has learned. As a sign of how serious it is,
Azerbaijan signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia last week
for long-term supply of gas at market prices.

Turkey and Armenia are said to have come very close to an agreement
on the timetable to normalize relations. As April 24 is approaching,
the date each year when the United States issues a presidential
statement on the World War I mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman
Empire, expectations are high that Turkey and Armenia will announce an
agreement. U.S. President Obama had pledged to recognize the Armenian
killings as "genocide" during his election campaign. A joint statement
by Turkish and Armenian officials on the normalization of relations
might prevent Obama from using the word "genocide."

This development in turn has upset the Azerbaijani government,
which argues a decision to open Turkey’s borders with Armenia would
leave Baku at a disadvantage in negotiating for the withdrawal of
Armenian troops from Azerbaijani territory. The ruling Justice and
Development Party (AKP) has been the target of severe criticism in
the Azerbaijani press with commentators there accusing the Turkish
government of selling out. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has been
informed that Aliyev has told third parties that were Turkey to open
its borders to Armenia, cooperation on energy supplies would end.

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