Turks Set New Condition for Normalizing Ties With Armenia

ANKARA (RFE/RL)–Turkey has reportedly set a new condition for the normalization of its relations with Armenia by demanding that Azerbaijan be given an overland link with its Nakhichevan exclave under a future peace deal on Nagorno-Karabakh. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit was on Wednesday quoted by Turkish newspapers as saying that a "security corridor" passing through southeastern Armenia’should be a key point of the peace settlement.

Ecevit was said to have made the remarks during a meeting earlier this week with the visiting US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Ankara has until now insisted only on the restoration of Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh and the return of surrounding territories under the control of Karabakh Armenian forces.

Turkey is linked to Nakhichevan by a ten-kilometer strip of land. The corridor in question would provide it with a conduit to the rest of Azerbaijan and other Turkic-speaking republics of the former Soviet Union.

While expressing readiness to ensure unfettered communication between Nakhichevan and Azerbaijan–the Armenian authorities have ruled out any swap of territories suggested by international mediators in the past as part of a would-be Karabakh settlement. The idea is highly unpopular in Armenia.

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