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Armenian foreign ministry photo: Vartan Oskanian (R), Ismail Cem and Vilayat Guliev (L) after talks in Iceland


By Emil Danielyan

Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said on Saturday that his talks earlier this week with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem were productive, but declined to disclose their details.

“It was a very constructive and useful meeting,” Oskanian said of his encounter with Cem on Wednesday on the sidelines of a session of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in Reykjavik, Iceland. He said the two sides discussed “normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, problems hampering it and ways of eliminating them.”

Oskanian refused to elaborate on whether he and Cem discussed the possibility of reopening the border between their two countries as was predicted by some Turkish media. He said: “I don’t want to make any comments. I can only confirm that we had open and very frank discussions on all issues.” The agenda of the talks was “quite inclusive,” and the two ministers agreed to meet again soon, he added.

Citing unnamed “well-informed sources” in Ankara, the establishment-linked newspaper “Turkish Daily News” claimed last week that “important steps are expected to be taken [at the Reykjavik meeting] for the opening of the closed border between Turkey and Armenia.”

Turkey makes its reopening conditional on a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that would restore its ally Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over the Armenian-populated region. Armenia, however, says the two countries should normalize their relations without any precondition.

Cem and Oskanian also discussed the Karabakh conflict and other regional problems at a separate meeting in Reykjavik attended by Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev. Oskanian said it was a “very constructive meeting of equal parties” and stressed that Ankara is not seeking to mediate a Karabakh settlement.

“Turkey is not acting as a Karabakh mediator; it is acting as an equal party that assumes responsibility for making its meaningful contribution to regional stability,” he said. “We don’t need a new mediator. But we do need an active participation of our neighbors and their practical steps to create a more favorable atmosphere in the region.”
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