By Suzan Fraser, The Associated Press
Turkey has asked its close ally Azerbaijan for information on the alleged mistreatment and expelling of a Turkish musician who is of Armenian descent, a Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday.
Murat Bedikyan - a pianist with Eurovision song contest winner Sertap Erener's band - accused officials in Azerbaijan of mistreating him and unfairly ousting him from the country on arrival for a concert over the weekend.
Bedikyan was forced to return to Istanbul and could not join his band. He insisted he was singled out and mistreated despite his Turkish citizenship, because he is a member of Turkey's minority Armenian community.
Turkey had formally requested information on Bedikyan's allegations from Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry, according to a Turkish Foreign Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of rules that bar civil servants from speaking to journalists without prior authorization. A similar request had been made with the Azerbaijani Embassy in Ankara, the official said.
The ex-Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia are at loggerheads over the mountainous region of Nagorno Karabakh in Azerbaijan that has been under the control of Armenian and ethnic-Armenian forces since a 1994 cease-fire. The six-year separatist conflict killed about 30,000 people and drove about 1 million from their homes, including many of the region's ethnic Azeris. The region's final status remains unresolved and years of talks under the auspices of international mediators have brought few visible results
Turkey has close ties to Azerbaijan, with which it shares an ethnic and linguistic heritage. It refuses to have diplomatic relations with Armenia because of Yerevan's unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan. Relations are further complicated over the World War I-era killings of Armenians.