Oskanian Sees Turkey as Destabalizing Region

GENEVA–DAMASCUS (Combined Sources)–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said Turkey is a destabilizing factor in the region.

"We are very suspicious of Turkey’s actions," he said in an interview with Switzerland’s Tribune de Geneve newspaper.

According to the AFP–Oskanian said that the Turkish government often makes short-sighted choices. Turkey’s position towards Azerbaijan is an example–he said.

Turkey is basing its policy "more on ethnic solidarity than political analysis," Oskanian said.

"We believe that Turkey is having a destabilizing influence on this part of the world," he said. Oskanian said he is satisfied that "the Iranians are trying to maintain balanced relations with their neighbors."

On Thursday Oskanian met with Swiss President Flavio Cotti. They discussed the situation in the Caucasus and cooperation within the bounds of the OSCE.

Oskanian arrived in Damascus Saturday for talks with Syrian leaders. On Sunday–he reiterated his position saying Turkey was a source of instability in the region.

Oskanian made the remark at a press conference after meeting with President Hafez Assad for what were officially described as talks about the Middle East situation and on mutual relations.

Oskanian also delivered a message to Assad from Armenian President Robert Kocharian. The message dealt with latest developmen’s in the Caspian area and on bilateral relations–Syrian presidential spokesman Jubran Koureih said.

The spokesman did not disclose the contents of the message but said talks attended by Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa dealt with "developmen’s in the (Middle East) area and in the countries looking out at the Caspian Sea in addition to mutual relations."

At the press conference–Oskanian said: Syria and Armenia as neighbors of Turkey were not alone in being concerned about Turkey’s behavior. Other countries in the region were also concerned.

"Turkey’s conduct does not encourage stability in the region," he charged.

The Armenian foreign minister complained that trade exchange between his country and Syria has been "very slim." Trade must past through Turkey–but the road through that country is closed.

He said that steps have been taken to hold a joint Syrian-Armenian commission in Damascus next month to promote economic ties.

Oskanian also met with Syrian Prime Minister Mahmoud Zoubi.

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