ANKARA: Turkey Says Normalization Talks With Armenia Are Underway


June 24 2009

ISTANBUL – The talks aimed at the normalization of relations between
Ankara and Yerevan continue at various levels, a Turkish foreign
ministry spokesman said on Wednesday, ruling out recent reports
suggesting the suspension of the agreed road map with Armenia.

"We are discussing all issues with Armenia, and what is important
is principles we set," Anatolian Agency quoted spokesperson Burak
Ozugergin as telling a press conference in the Turkish capital
of Ankara.

Ozugergin said there was also an ongoing process between Azerbaijan
and Armenia, and both processes were affecting each other.

Turkey and Armenia agreed in April on a "road map" deal for U.S.-backed
talks that could lead to the normalization of ties and the opening
of their border, which Ankara closed in a show of support to Baku in
1993 after Armenian occupation of Azeri territories in the disputed
Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Turkish officials, however, have said Turkey will not open its border
with Armenia before the neighboring country ends its occupation of
Nagorno-Karabakh, reassuring Azeri leaders that Ankara’s efforts to
reconcile with Yerevan would not undermine the country’s interests.

Recent media reports questioned further progress in talks between
Turkey and Armenia. Even EU South Caucasus envoy Peter Semneby said
in an interview published last week Turkey has taken a "tactical step
backwards" on normalizing relations with Armenia because of fierce
domestic reaction to the move.

Ozugergin said the road map would be made public when the conditions
are suitable, adding he had already said that the two countries have
agreed on some principles.

He said Turkey was supporting a solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh
dispute through peaceful means, and a positive course of the process
would contribute to peace and stability in the Caucasus.

The spokesman also said Turkey would support any positive development
or step in the Minsk process.

"Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem will restore stability
in the region, and make it sustainable," Ozugergin said.

Ozugergin also said Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu might
meet foreign ministers of other countries, including his Armenian
counterpart Eduard Nalbandian, on the Greek island of Corfu during
an informal meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe, or OSCE, this weekend.