AFPTurkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan on Monday defended Ankara's efforts to improve ties with Armenia during a visit to Azerbaijan, where Turkish overtures to its arch-foe have raised concerns.
Following talks with Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov, Babacan said better ties between Turkey and Armenia would help to resolve the longstanding conflict over Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
"The normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations would have a positive impact on the Azerbaijan-Armenia talks over Nagorno-Karabakh," he said at a press conference.
Babacan's visit came amid a push by Turkey for more influence in the volatile Caucasus region, where Russia and Georgia fought a brief war in August. After the conflict, Ankara proposed creating a new forum for cooperation in the region, which Babacan called for regional governments to support.
"All the countries of the region must sit at the bargaining table," he said.
In September, Turkish President Abdullah Gul became the first Turkish head of state to visit Armenia, boosting a tentative dialogue process between the two countries to overcome their history of enmity.
Both Turkey and Azerbaijan have severed ties with Armenia, closing borders and imposing an economic blockade on Yerevan as a result of the Karabakh dispute. But Azerbaijani media and some officials have raised concerns that Ankara's recent overtures to Yerevan could see it re-open the border and lift its embargo, easing international pressure on Armenia to give up control of Karabakh and other territories seized from Azerbaijan.