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Russia Reaffirms Support For Turkey-Armenia Thaw


Russia -- Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko, 03Jul2009

Russia -- Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko, 03Jul2009

Russia on Thursday again voiced support for the ongoing normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey which it said will be formalized on October.

In televised remarks cited by AFP news agency, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko described as a “very important step in the right direction” two draft agreements envisaging the establishment of diplomatic relations and reopening of the border between the two nations.

“The signing of the Armenian-Turkish documents, set for October 10 in Zurich, will... determine the steps of the two sides on to the path of a full normalization of intergovernmental ties between Armenia and Turkey,” said Nesterenko.

Neither Ankara, nor Yerevan have officially confirmed the date and location of the signing ceremony. “I am not giving any dates,” Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara earlier in the day. Let's wait for a statement from the Swiss. As Turkey, we have no doubts the protocols will be signed.”

Davutoglu also downplayed the uproar caused by the agreements in Armenia’s large and influential Diaspora. “Don't listen to the voices from the Diaspora, there is no
surprise development for us,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “Everything is happening within its natural course.”

Meanwhile, a senior lawmaker from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party said late Wednesday lack of progress Azerbaijan and Armenia towards resolving the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh would affect Turkey's parliamentary ratification of the agreements. "Lack of progress towards the resolution of Armenian-Azeri problems will certainly affect the parliamentary process," Murat Mercan, chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, told Reuters.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has likewise repeatedly stated that Turkey will not open its border with Armenia as long as the Karabakh dispute remains unresolved. The Turkish-Armenian agreements make no reference to the conflict.
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