Russian Ambassador to Turkey Says Impossible to Revise Kars Treaty

ISTANBUL–According to the Turkish Daily News–Russian Ambassador to Turkey Alexander Lebedev stated that the Kars Treaty–which was signed by Soviet Russia and Turkey in 1921 demarcating the border between the Soviet Union and Turkey–could not be challenged. "My personal opinion is that I do not think the Kars Treaty can be revised," said Lebedev in an exclusive interview to the Turkish Daily News.

"Those border disputes were once more settled at Potsdam in the wake of World War II. Legally–the Kars Treaty can not be challenged. I never heard that the Armenian President Robert Kocharian has demanded Turkish territory." said Lebedev. Referring to the statement of the Armenian Parliament’s Human Rights Commission–which demanded the cities of Kars and Ardahan to be returned to Armenia–Lebedev said–"They would be better to concentrate on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute." Stressing that he could not comment on the internal affairs of Armenia–Lebedev said similar deman’s were raised by former Soviet leader Stalin after World War II and they were not satisfied. He added that despite the fact that the Kars Treaty was signed between Moscow and Ankara–Yerevan should discuss today’s border problems directly with Ankara. "If I were Armenian–I would not raise those issues at all–it does not help at all," said Lebedev.

Commenting on the Armenian Genocide bill in the Russian Parliament Duma–Lebedev said there was no resolution but a statement from the Duma and it had been forgotten since then. "There was an attempt recently–influenced by the French Parliament’s decision and efforts in the U.S. Congress–by Vladimir Zhirinovsky–the notorious political figure. Our Foreign Minister immediately intervened and asked deputies not to proceed with the bill. The bill died away and hopefully will not come again," said Lebedev.

Touching on the sticky issue of projects on energy routes from Central Asia to Turkey–Lebedev said all decisions should be taken on a commercial basis rather than with political considerations. Stressing that Russia is not against Baku-Ceyhan or any other project–Lebedev stressed that no party should politicize economic issues.

Lebedev indicated that some Turkish authorities have characterized the relations between Turkey and Russia as an "advanced partnership" and added that they "fully agreed with that." He said–"A strategic partnership is possible in the future. We were rivals in the past but it is not the case anymore. We recognize the role of Turkey in the Caucasus. We should work on joint projects."

Lebedev stressed that the Soviet Union was the first country to recognize the Turkish republic with the Friendship Agreement signed on March 15–1921. He indicated that the prime ministers of Turkey and Russia have exchanged letters to commemorate this important date.

Stressing that the two countries should develop their cooperation in every possible field–Lebedev said they were ready to provide Turkey weapons with high technology. He stressed that they were not like Americans and would not hesitate to provide high technology to Turkey. "We are not like Americans. They give you the license and some spare parts but never the real high technology. We trust modern Turkey," said the Russian Ambassador. Asked if he meant that the United States did not trust Turkey enough to provide it with high technology–Lebedev declined to comment further.

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