Yerevan Displeased with Erdogan’s Pro Azeri Stance

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia has expressed its disappointment with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s pro-Azerbaijan remarks that rule out improvement of Turkish-Armenian relations before the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said on Friday that the leader of Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) dimmed hopes for dialogue between the two nations–prompted by the actions of the new Turkish government after it took office last December.

Visiting Baku earlier this week–Erdogan indicated that Ankara will not agree to normalize its ties with Yerevan unless the Karabakh dispute is resolved "in Azerbaijan’s favor."

Oskanian said the AKP government had initially sounded ready to reconsider the Armenian policy pursued by previous Turkish cabinets. "They seemed to realize that the previous authorities had led themselves to a deadlock. We hoped that they will not repeat those mistakes and the first signals we received were quite positive," Oskanian stated at a news conference.

"However–I think that [Erdogan’s] statemen’s in Baku–if they were correctly reported by the media?–cast shadow on those hopes," he added.

Turkey has close ethnic and cultural bonds with Azerbaijan and has lent it full support in the Karabakh dispute–refusing to establish diplomatic relations with and lift its economic blockade of Armenia. Erdogan–who led the AKP to a landslide victory in the November general elections–effectively ruled out any shift from that policy–saying that Ankara "will never act against the will of the Azerbaijani people."

Oskanian said the Armenian leadership hopes–nonetheless–to resume "without any precondition" direct contacts which it maintained with the previous Turkish government headed by Bulent Ecevit.

Following the same lime in an interview last week–Edogan’s Vice Chairman Saban Disli stated that Turkey would have to obtain "the agreement of our Azeri brothers" in order to improve relations with Armenia’s. "Bilateral relations with Azerbaijan are more important than the "Armenian" topic," he said.

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