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Turkey Stands By Karabakh Linkage


Turkey -- Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev receives Turkey's State Honor Medal from his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul (R) during a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, November 12, 2013

Turkey -- Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev receives Turkey's State Honor Medal from his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul (R) during a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, November 12, 2013

Turkey continues to make the normalization of its relations with Armenia conditional on a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict despite reportedly seeking international mediation for a renewed Turkish-Armenian rapprochement.

Citing unnamed Turkish officials, the daily newspaper “Today’s Zaman” reported on Tuesday that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu asked Swiss officials to “convince Armenia to leave the occupied territories” of Azerbaijan during a visit to Switzerland last month.

“If Armenia starts to leave the occupied territories and does this by presenting a clear timeline of withdrawal that will also be accepted by Baku, we are ready to put these protocols into practice. We are waiting for your help to convince the Armenian administration of this solution,” the English-language paper quoted Davutoglu as saying.

Davutoglu referred to the two U.S.-backed protocols which he and his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian signed in Zurich in 2009. They call for the establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia and opening of their border.

Ankara has since made their parliamentary ratification contingent on a Karabakh settlement acceptable to Azerbaijan. The Armenian side rejects this precondition, saying that it contradicts the letter and spirit of the Turkish-Armenian protocols. The United States has repeatedly urged the Turks to drop the Karabakh linkage.

With Ankara sticking to that linkage, Armenian officials and pundits will dismiss the reported Turkish initiative as an attempt to imitate a rapprochement and thus thwart greater international recognition of the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire ahead of the 100th anniversary of the tragedy that will be marked in 2015.

“According to [Turkish] Foreign Ministry sources, Turkey is particularly aiming to normalize relations with Armenia before 2015,” said “Today’s Zaman.”

The newspaper report coincided with the start of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s official visit to Ankara highlighting close ties between the two Turkic allies. Aliyev received a top Turkish state award, the Medal of Honor, from Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul at a ceremony that followed their negotiations.

According to the Azerbaijani media, the unresolved Karabakh conflict was on the agenda of the talks, with Aliyev thanking Ankara for its “just position” at a joint news conference with Gul. “Turkey’s support multiplies our strength and we are grateful for that support,” Aliyev said, according to Haqqin.az.
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