Q&A With Recep Tayyip Erdogan


OCTOBER 6, 2009, 5:36 P.M. ET

These are edited excepts of a transcript of an interview with Turkey
Prime Minist Recep Tayyip Erdogan, conducted through a translator on
Sunday, Oct. 3.

Q: Are you confident that the protocol on reopening the border with
Armenia will be signed on Saturday and is it contingent on progress
on the ANgorno Karabakh issue at the meeting between the Armenian
and Azerbaijani presidents on Saturday?

Thank you for the question I’m very glad you asked this question. Our
foreign minister is going to sign this agreement with the Armenian
foreign minister [Edward] Nalbandian on Oct. 10, if there is no
negative development on the part of the Armenians from today until
the 10th of October, I don’t see any problem with signing of this
agreement, because as the world has known and will see again we always
stick to our promises. So, so long as there is no change to the text,
we are ready as it is now to sign the agreement.

We’d also like to see the Minsk group [an international grouping
that oversees peace talks on Nagorno Karabakh] witness the signing
of this agreement actually — and if the French don’t come perhaps
the Americans or the Russians will come. And in addition to that the
meeting in Moldova is very important because although the Armenians
sometimes say this agreement has nothing to do with the Azeris,
there is i n fact a relationship. Because most recently, I believe
when president Sargsyan was on an international visit, he was faced
by a reaction from the Armenian diaspora. So what he does in face of
the reaction of the diaspora is very important. If he can stand firm,
and if it is the government of Armenia and not the Armenian dasipora
that is determining policy in Armenia, then I think that we can move
forward. As far as we’re concerned there is no problem. But it is up
to the government in Armenia.

As for the parliament … of course as is the case in any democratic
country, in any democratic parliament, what governements do is they
prepare a draft, they send it to the parliament, and there is a secret
ballot on that and everyone will vote in the way they want to vote, and
there is no way one can control that. This in fact happened a few years
back on the first of march — what we call the parliamentary motion of
the first of march — where the government prepared a motion, sent it
to the parliament, but it was not ratified, it did not get a majority
of votes in the parliament and could not be passed. I became prime
minister after that parliamentary motion was sent to the parliament,
this was back in 2003, when we presented a new draft, this was about
troops into Iraq. At the time the second draft….got the necessary
votes in parliament, but our American friends and our brothe rs in
Iraq did not want to have troops cross into Iraq by the time the
second motion passed, so the second draft was not put into practice. ..

What is important and I would like to underline this, because this is
perhaps the most impotant point is that Armenia should not allow its
policies to be taken hostage by the Armenian diaspora. It should be
up to the government to carry out its policies. And in that context
the moldova meeting is very important on NK, because if you look at
Nagorno Karabakh and where it stands today there arn’t in fact too
many more issues left to be resolved. There are out of seven regions,
5 that have been resolved and two, Lachin and Kelbajar to be exact,
where there is an issue with the size. If those issues can be resolved
there could be a positive result. So all in all there is in fact a move
for the better. But we have taken our positive steps. We have been
taking pos steps for some time. For example we have allowed flights
between Yerevan and Istanbul, cargo flights are free to travel. And we
have abvout 40000 Armenians who live in turkey, who came from Armenia,
who do not have the necessary legal papers. We do not send them back,
we allow them to stay.

So all of these are important messages actually…

Q: so is signature on the 10th of October contingent on progress at
the meeting in Moldova?

The agreement will be signed on the 10th. It doesn’t have anything to
do with what happens in Moldova. But of course a positive development
in moldova will definitely have a positive impact on the process

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