By Emil Danielyan
Official Yerevan indicated on Friday that the Turkish government is sticking to its preconditions for normalizing relations with Armenia despite domestic calls for a policy change that followed the shock killing of a respected Turkish-Armenian journalist.
A spokesman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry said Deputy Foreign Minister Arman Kirakosian, who attended Dink’s funeral on Tuesday, met with a senior Turkish diplomat in Istanbul to discuss “possibilities of registering progress in Turkish-Armenian relations.”
“Differences in the parties’ positions on the discussed issues remain,” the official, Vladimir Karapetian, told RFE/RL, commenting on the meeting. Armenia hopes that Turkey “will take steps” to bridge those differences, he said.
The outpouring of sympathy in Turkey for the slain editor of the bilingual “Agos” weekly fueled talk of a possible softening of the long-standing Turkish policy towards Armenia. Turkish media commentators have urged Ankara to stop linking the establishment of diplomatic relations and reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the decades-long campaign for international recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide.
While in Istanbul, Kirakosian reaffirmed his country’s readiness to normalize bilateral ties “without any preconditions.” “This is what Hrant Dink was working for and talking about,” he was reported to say.
But Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul made it clear on Wednesday that Yerevan should first “review its negative feelings against us and should not make unjust demands.” "We do not believe we can launch diplomatic ties by setting aside allegations of genocide," said another Turkish diplomat quoted by AFP news agency.
Neither official mentioned the other Turkish precondition: a solution to the Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan, Turkey’s main regional ally.
(Photolur photo: Arman Kirakosian.)