Foreign Ministry Says Ocalan Not in Armenia

MOSCOW (BBC)–The Armenian Foreign Ministry announced that the head of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was not in Armenia.

Replying in writing to an Anatolia News Agency correspondent’s questions–Ara Papyan–Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman–stressed that the PKK leader was not in Armenia–saying "official Armenian representatives–including the Armenian Foreign Ministry–have repeatedly announced that Ocalan is not in Armenia . In spite of that–the media in certain countries continue to report that Ocalan is in Armenia or that he is using Armenia as a transit port. We consider it necessary to officially declare once again that Ocalan was never in Armenia and that he is not here at the moment."

Replying to a question on the probability that Ocalan may go to Armenia–the spokesman affirmed that Armenia did not intend to get involved in this issue.

He said–"this issue is not on the agenda of the Armenian government… Armenia does not intend to interfere with another country’s domestic affairs or to get involved in existing international conflicts."

To the question "do you think the current level of the Armenian-Turkish relations is satisfactory?" the spokesman replied that there was no full dialogue between the two countries for the solution of the existing problems. He added that "as long as there is no full dialogue to resolve our problems–we cannot talk of the relations between the two countries."

The spokesman recalled that Prime Minister Ecevit had said that "we will take every kind of measure against the neighboring countries that may try to hide the terrorist."

Papyan charged that a "threat policy" was hidden in those remarks–adding that "I want to point to the secret threat hidden between the lines of that statement. I do not think that a threat policy will help establish friendly relations between neighboring countries."

Meanwhile–Nagorno-Karabakh authorities Monday again denied reports in the Russian and Turkish media that Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan has arrived in Karabakh from Rome via Moscow.

A spokeswoman for Arkady Ghoukassian–the president Nagorno-Karabakh Republic–blamed the reports on Azerbaijan–which she said wants to bring about Turkey’s "military presence" in the region.

"Azerbaijan has issued a number of destabilizing statemen’s lately that purport to secure Turkish military presence in the region," said press secretary Zhanna Krikorova–in an interview with RFE/RL. "Azerbaijan does and will continue to portray our country as a regional center of international terrorism," she said. Last week–the Karabakh foreign ministry attributed the reports about Ocalan’s arrival to a "well thought-out provocation against the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic."

Earlier this month–the Azeri president’s foreign policy adviser Vafa Guluzade suggested that Baku should consider having Turkish or NATO military bases on its territory if the military cooperation between Russia and Armenia continues.

Turkish President Suleyman Demirel said that any development in ties with neighboring Armenia would depend on a the resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"Armenia’should take steps for a positive solution to the problem. Only then will our relations with Armenia normalize," Demirel said in an interview on Turkish state television TRT late Sunday.

Ankara recognizes Armenia –but does not have diplomatic relations with Yerevan. On the other hand–it supports close ties with Moslem and Turkish-speaking Azerbaijan.

"Those who touch Azerbaijan will touch Turkey," Demirel said on Sunday.

The Turkish press said last week that Ocalan was hiding in Nagorno- Karabakh after flying out of Rome on January 16.

Citing secret service sources–the reports said that Ocalan–49–had traveled first to Moscow and later to Yerevan. He had then passed on to Nagorno-Karabakh–they added.

"These reports have not yet been confirmed," Demirel told reporters over the weekend after visiting Azeri President Haydar Aliyev who is undergoing treatment in an Ankara hospital.


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