By Daniel Bases, Reuters
The war between Russia and Georgia shifted the political landscape in the Caucasus and is prompting Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, three countries with long-standing disputes, to try to settle their differences, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said on Monday.
The foreign ministers from all three countries will meet on Friday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly to discuss "frozen conflicts."
"The recent crisis in Georgia urged all the countries in the region to re-evaluate policies and also have a stronger feeling of urgency," Babacan said at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Russia sent troops deep into Georgian territory during a five-day war last month over Georgia's breakaway, pro-Russian province of South Ossetia. Georgia and Turkey form a key energy transfer link for oil and gas from Azerbaijan.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul, accompanied by Babacan, made a historic first visit to Armenia on September 6 to watch a soccer match between the two nations. The neighbors have no diplomatic ties but a relationship haunted by whether ethnic Armenians killed by Ottoman Turks during World War One were victims of systemic genocide.
Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in a show of solidarity with Azerbaijan, a Turkic-speaking ally that was fighting Armenian-backed separatists over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
"The political will is there, which is probably very important, and then the rest is details to be discussed and the devil is obviously in the details of course," said Babacan. He said he expected an acceleration in the talks after the October 15 Azeri presidential election.
Babacan's counterparts are Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Azerbaijan Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov.
(Photolur photo: Babacan, right, and Nalbandian pictured in Yerevan on September 6.)