Azeri Leader Asks Turkey’s Help in Karabakh Settlement

BAKU (Itar Tass)–Azeri President Gaidar Aliyev Monday urged Turkey to take a more active part in the settlement of the long-time crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Receiving Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem–Aliyev suggested that Ankara enhance its involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.

The conflict should be resolved based on the Lisbon principles and new initiatives proposed by the peacemaking group’s co-chairing countries Russia–the United States and France–the Azeri leader said.

Although these initiatives are not fully acceptable to Azerbaijan–they contain certain provisions to build a negotiating process upon–Aliyev said.

Aliyev focused special attention on the issue of the would-be main pipeline which will transport Caspian Sea oil to world markets.

"As for me–I would like to see this strategic oil pipeline run via Turkey to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan," he said.

Along with Turkey–Russia–Georgia and Ukraine are vying for the pipeline to run via their territories.

The Azeri president also drew attention of the Turkish minister to the problem of "illegal Russian weapons deliveries to Armenia–totaling $1 billion–which were carried out in 1993-1997."

"Although it was decided to set up a tri-lateral Azeri-Russian-Armenian commission to probe into the case–a lot of obstacles have emerged in this work," he said. "We must work together in order to have these weapons out of the region."

Aliyev expressed grave concern over the Aug. 28 Russian-Armenian treaty focusing on military aspects. "This document may create an explosive situation in the region," he said.

On Sept. 4–Azerbaijan filed a note with the Russian Foreign Ministry and now is waiting for the latter to respond–Aliyev said calling on Turkey to take a similar diplomatic move.

"Turkey attaches priority importance to it relations with Azerbaijan," Cem stated during his meeting with Azeri Foreign Minister Hassan Hassanov.

The head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry arrived in Baku on Sunday. Local analysis assess his visit as a step to restore the close cooperation between the two countries that had weakened a bit during the rule of the previous Ankara government headed by Necmettin Erbakan.

According to Cem–Azerbaijan and Turkey are linked by "sound equitable partnership relations and each side has quite a few things to learn from the other."

He expressed the intention of the new Turkish government to expand cooperation with Azerbaijan–to seek new forms for its promotion to render this Transcaucasian republic constant aid and support. Both sides–the Turkish minister noted–"have reached the understanding that their security is mutually dependent."

Touching on the agenda of the talks–Hassanov stressed that the sides would first of all discuss problems of bilateral relations and also of enhancing Turkey’s role in the peace-making effort to settle the Armenian-Azeri conflict–which Azerbaijan was eager to achieve.

Itar-Tass has learned from diplomatic sources that the sides would also touch on the posturing of some representatives of the Turkish business community–who are calling for closer contacts with Armenia–and–in particular–for the opening of the border between the two countries.

Baku regards such statemen’s as impermissible and harmful for the Azeri-Turkish cooperation.

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