Turkey hopes that a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is on the horizon, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said after talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry late on Monday.
“We hope that this frozen conflict will be ending soon,” Davutoglu told a joint news conference with Kerry in Washington. “And that will bring peace to Caucasia; that will bring peace to the region beyond Caucasia.”
“Therefore, today I am happy to see that John and me and Turkey and the United States look to this issue from the same perspective, and we hope that this meeting [on Tuesday] between President [Serzh] Sarkisian and President [Ilham] Aliyev will be successful,” he said.
Kerry also indicated that the Karabakh issue was on the agenda of their talks, noting Turkey’s “very large role” in the region in that context. “For months now, we have been talking about Cyprus and we have been talking about Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said. “And quietly, we have been trying to work ways that our ambassadors … are continuing that process,” he said.
Turkey hopes that decisive progress in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks would eliminate the main obstacle to the normalization of its relations with Armenia sought by the United States. Ankara regards the Karabakh settlement as a precondition for implementing U.S.-brokered normalization agreements signed with Yerevan in 2009.
The Turkish government stands by that linkage while apparently seeking renewed diplomatic contacts with the Armenian side ahead of the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire. Davutoglu reportedly asked Switzerland, another sponsor of the 2009 agreements, to “convince Armenia to leave the occupied territories” of Azerbaijan during a visit to Berne last month.
Armenian leaders made clear afterwards that another Turkish-Armenian rapprochement will be impossible as long as Ankara sticks to its precondition.
The U.S. has likewise repeatedly urged the Turks to unconditionally ratify the Turkish-Armenian protocols. Still, Kerry made no mention of those protocols and broader Turkish-Armenian relations at the news conference with Davutoglu.