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West Hails Turkish-Armenian Statement


Turkey - US President Barack Obama (R) meets with the foreign ministers of Armenia, Turkey and Switzerland in Istanbul, 06Apr2009

Turkey - US President Barack Obama (R) meets with the foreign ministers of Armenia, Turkey and Switzerland in Istanbul, 06Apr2009

The United States and the European Union have welcomed the latest agreement announced by Armenia and Turkey and urged the two estranged neighbors to promptly complete the normalization of their relations.

“The United States warmly welcomes the joint statement made today by Turkey and Armenia, with Swiss participation, outlining further steps in the normalization of their bilateral relations,” U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said late Monday.

“It has long been and remains the position of the United States that normalization should take place without preconditions and within a reasonable timeframe,” he said. “We urge Armenia and Turkey to proceed expeditiously, according to the agreed framework as described in today’s statement.”

The Turkish-Armenian statement, which set concrete time frames for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two states and reopening of their border, also drew strong praise from the EU on Tuesday. Javier Solana, the bloc’s foreign and security policy chief, called it a “crucial step towards normalization of bilateral relations.”

“I commend the courage and vision of both sides to move forward with this historic process,” Solana said in a statement. “I hope the two protocols can be signed, ratified, and implemented in the near term.”

“The European Commission attaches high importance to a rapid and steady implementation of the protocols on the establishment of diplomatic relations and on the development of bilateral relations,” read a separate statement by Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Olli Rehn, the EU commissioners for external relations and enlargement respectively. “This agreement should contribute to peace and stability in the South Caucasus.”

Both the EU and the U.S. have been highly supportive of the unprecedented Turkish-Armenian rapprochement that gained momentum with Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s historic September 2008 visit to Yerevan. Washington is understood to have also been involved in fence-mending negotiations held by Turkish and Armenian diplomats over the past year. U.S. President Barack Obama personally encouraged Ankara and Yerevan to bring the process to a successful conclusion when he visited Turkey in April.

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