PM: ARMENIA TO REMAIN OUT OF PROJECTS IF IT MAINTAINS HARD-LINE STANCE
Today’s Zaman, Turkey
Sept 19 2014
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Friday that as long as Armenia
maintains its hard-line position and does not attempt to solve the
Nagorno-Karabakh problem, it will remain out of regional projects.
In his remarks during a joint press conference after a one-hour-long
bilateral meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Davutoglu
said if Armenia shows respect to Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity
and peace is established between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Yerevan will
benefit from regional cooperation projects.
“As long as the Karabakh problem [exists] and Armenia’s hard-line
stance continues, it will remain outside of all of the projects. …
Turkey will stand by Azerbaijan’s struggle until every centimeter of
Azerbaijani territories is disengaged [from by Armenia]. International
law agrees with this. Until international law is fulfilled as required,
Turkey will make efforts standing shoulder to shoulder with Azerbaijan
to turn the region into a peaceful one,” he said, adding that any
negative stance towards Azerbaijan from Armenia will receive a harsh
reaction from Turkey.
Nagorno-Karabakh — an Azerbaijani territory predominantly populated
by ethnic Armenians — was the subject of a bitter conflict in the
early 1990s when Armenian armed forces occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and
seven Azerbaijani-populated adjacent provinces. Although a cease-fire
was agreed, there has been no lasting peace agreement and diplomatic
efforts to find a lasting solution to the conflict under the auspices
of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk
Group have so far failed. Armenia controls 20 percent of Azerbaijani
territory despite four UN resolutions demanding the withdrawal of
After the start of the conflict, Turkey closed its border with
Armenia in 1993 in solidarity with Azerbaijan. The issue of Armenia’s
withdrawal from the area surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh is of importance
to Ankara, which has frequently signaled that this step would ease
the way towards reopening its border with Armenia.
Davutoglu arrived in Baku on Thursday evening. He had a tÃƒÂªte-a-tÃƒÂªte
with Aliyev and afterwards the two gave a joint press conference and
an inter-delegation meeting took place between Turkish and Azerbaijani
officials. Davutoglu paid his first visit abroad as prime minister
to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) before visiting
Azerbaijan. Erdogan also paid his first visits abroad to the KKTC and
Azerbaijan, following his inauguration on Aug. 28. Energy Minister
Taner YÃ„Â±ldÃ„Â±z and Education Minister Nabi AvcÃ„Â± also accompanied
Davutoglu during his visit to Baku. Cooperation in the defense
industry is believed to be one of the priorities on the meeting’s
agenda in Baku.
Davutoglu also mentioned the regional projects between Turkey and
Azerbaijan, such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, the
Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum natural gas pipeline and the trans-Anatolian
natural gas pipeline project (TANAP), saying these projects are not
only good for the two countries but will contribute to peace in the
Caucasus, the Balkans, Europe and Asia.
During the press conference, Davutoglu also said that the
groundbreaking ceremony for TANAP will be held on March 17, on the
anniversary of the Battle of Canakkale.
The prime minister also promised to support Azerbaijan in the
international arena. He said Turkey will continue to support
Azerbaijan’s regional and international initiatives.