Turkey Renews Support for Azerbaijan in Karabagh Conflict

(AFP)–Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer on Tuesday renewed his country’s support for Azerbaijan in its territorial dispute with Armenia.

The dispute over the ethnic Armenian Karabagh "should be resolved within the framework of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan," Sezer told reporters after meeting his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev. This is "in line with international norms," Sezer added.

President Aliyev expressed gratitude for Sezer’s position on Karabagh and support rendered to Azerbaijan in the settlement of the conflict.

Sezer was speaking at a news conference during a two-day official visit to Baku–which focused on bilateral relations–regional and international projects–and other matters of mutual interest.

During the meeting–he lauded economic ties with the booming Caspian Sea oil economy–saying total trade volume would hit $1 billion in 2006.

Both Turkey and Azerbaijan have severed ties with Armenia–closing borders and imposing an economic blockade on Yerevan as a result of the Karabagh dispute. Ankara is under European Union pressure to normalize ties with Armenia but worries that reconciliatory moves sought by the bloc may damage its alliance with Azerbaijan.

Turkish-Armenian ties have also been strained by Yerevan’s deman’s that Turkey recognize the Armenian genocide.

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