Oskanian Upbeat after Meeting with Turkish Counterpart

PRAGUE (RFE/RL)–After his meeting with Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said late Thursday–that Armenia and Turkey have taken another step towards normalizing their strained relations.

Asked about the reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border–Oskanian said "I have no practical positive results to report at this point," during a phone interview from New York. "But I find this process positive. This meeting was an important circumstance in this process."

"Judging from our discussions today–we are on the right track in terms of finally registering progress in our bilateral relations," he added.

Oskanian would not go into details of the talks held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly–saying only that they were a "continuation" of the two ministers’ first meeting which took place in Madrid last May. That meeting raised hopes for the lifting of the decade-old Turkish blockade imposed on Armenia at the height of the war in Mountainous Karabagh Republic.

Some observers predicted that Ankara would decide to open the frontier with Armenia as early as this year–but Turkish leaders have made no such indication.

According to Oskanian–the two sides are now trying to normalize their ties "with small steps."

The unresolved Karabagh conflict was also high on the agenda of the Oskanian-Gul encounter. Oskanian said the two ministers discussed the problem in the light of the upcoming presidential elections in Azerbaijan and "their possible results." He said they also talked about regional problems–notably the situation in Iraq and Turkish military participation in post-war stabilization efforts there.

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