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Ankara Sends Armenia Accords To Parliament


Turkey -- Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses lawmakers of his ruling party at the parliament in Ankara, 20Oct2009

Turkey -- Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses lawmakers of his ruling party at the parliament in Ankara, 20Oct2009

Turkey’s government formally submitted its far-reaching agreements with Armenia to parliament for ratification on Wednesday, while maintaining that it will take no steps that would upset Azerbaijan. (UPDATED)

Turkish President Abdullah Gul reportedly gave relevant assurances in a phone call with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev. The official Anatolia news agency said the conversation “eliminated misunderstandings resulting from some emotional reactions which emerged during a tough period.” No further details were reported.

Azerbaijan reacted negatively to the October 10 signing in Zurich of the Turkish-Armenian protocols to establish diplomatic relations and reopen the border between the two countries, which Ankara had closed in 1993 in solidarity with Baku. Aliyev implicitly threatened last week to raise the price of Azerbaijani natural gas supplied to Turkey and choose alternative routs for delivering it to Europe. In a related development, Turkish flags were removed from a Baku cemetery, where Turkish soldiers who fought for Azerbaijan in the early 20th century are buried.

Turkey -- Azerbaijani football fans at the Turkey-Armenia World Cup qualifying match in Bursa, 14Oct2009.
Turkey’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, Hulusi Kilic, insisted on Wednesday that the Turkish-Armenian border will not be reopened before a solution is found to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “The Turkish-Armenian border was closed because of Nagorno-Karabakh,” the Trend news agency quoted him as saying. “Until that problem is solved, the border’s opening will not be possible.”

Kilic pointed to repeated statements to that effect made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “I decisively declare that the opinion of the Turkish people will be reflected in the parliament’s decision and that the signed protocols will not be ratified,” he said.

The protocols, which make no reference to the Karabakh conflict, were sent to the parliament the day after a meeting of Turkey’s powerful National Security Council. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reportedly briefed top state officials and army generals making up the body on Ankara’s rapprochement with Yerevan.

In a statement cited by Turkish media, the council said the process warmly welcomed by the international community will facilitate the resolution of the Karabakh dispute. “Turkey will continue its efforts to establish peace, stability, cooperation and trust in the region,” it said. The statement did not make an explicit linkage between the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations and Karabakh peace.

Davutoglu defended his government’s policy of rapprochement with Armenia as he addressed Turkey’s Grand National Assembly, in which Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP)has a clear majority, later on Wednesday. “Turkey cannot act efficiently because of the current status quo,” Anatolia quoted him as saying in a speech that often was interrupted by opposition lawmakers. “Therefore, we must change it.

“We have three important targets to this end. First of all, we need to establish good neighborly relations with Armenia. Secondly, we want to set up a channel of healthy communication between Turkish and Armenian peoples. And thirdly, we aim at accelerating the process to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia.”

"We always feel the problems of our Azeri brothers in our heart," Davutoglu said, according to the Associated Press. "The territorial unity of Azerbaijan is Turkey's unity." Turkey’s two main opposition parties on Tuesday reiterated their strong objections to the unconditional ratification of the agreements.

“The AKP mentality, which risks losing Azerbaijan in the name of winning over Armenia, has left our relations with this close ally on a dangerous path,” Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, said, according to “Today’s Zaman” newspaper.

Under its statutes, the Turkish parliament will have to debate the protocols only after they are approved by its foreign affairs commission.

Meanwhile, it is not yet clear when Armenia’s National Assembly will start discussing the landmark agreement. Leaders of the parliament majority loyal to President Serzh Sarkisian have said that debates on the matter would start only after the Turkish parliament endorses the deal.
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