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Turkey's Foreign Minister Ali Babacan on Friday expressed optimism that long-running disputes between Turkey and Armenia, and Armenia and Azerbaijan can be resolved and that Turkey was determined to push forward in the interests of regional peace.

"These two tracks could move fast because there is good political will," Babacan said at a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Istanbul.

"Imagine a region in which you have totally new relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and Armenia and Turkey. The consequences for trade, for communications, for transport, for energy and the opportunities are huge, so we will do our best to normalize the situation as soon as possible," Babacan said.

Turkey and Armenia do not have any diplomatic relations and the land border between the two countries was closed by Turkey in 1993 in protest at the Armenian occupation of the Azerbaijan territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Relations are also strained by Turkey's refusal to accept as genocide the deaths of up to 1.5 million ethnic Armenians in the last days of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey says that while there were massacres of ethnic Armenians, the events do not constitute genocide and were instead the result of a civil uprising during the First World War.

Hopes have risen in recent months that after a groundbreaking visit by Turkish President Abdullah Gul to the Armenian capital Yerevan where he attended a World Cup qualifying match between the two countries.

Babacan on Friday said that the recent events in Georgia increased the incentive and need for regional cooperation and said that Turkey was ready to use its perceived position as a "balancing power" to contribute to peace and stability.
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