Kocharian Presses Turkey on Diplomatic Relations as EU Membership Precondition

BERLIN (Combined Sources)–Armenian President Robert Kocharian stated Thursday that Turkey, as a candidate for European Union membership, should follow a "different approach" on the issue of establishing diplomatic relations with Yerevan. Stressing that diplomatic relations should be established without preconditions and prejudices, Kocharian claimed that although his country had suggested to Turkey the establishment of diplomatic relations, Ankara refused. "Our suggestion is still valid," he said in a speech at a meeting organized by the Bertelsmann Association in Berlin, where he also met on Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Touching on Armenians relations with its neighbors, Kocharian also said, "Turkey, which is an important state in its region, closed its borders to Armenia. An important country like Turkey should follow a different approach." Kocharian also dismissed the Turkish proposal to establish a joint commission of historians to study the Armenian genocide claims as a "Turkish ploy" by which he claimed Ankara will try to distance itself from the core of the alleged issue. Kocharian made the remarks in response to former German Ambassador Dietrich Kyaw, who asked him why he had rejected Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s proposal of a historians’ commission to examine the genocide allegations. Kocharian also stated that Yerevan wants the establishment of a commission of politicians instead of a commission of historians and said, "Politicians, not historians, have responsibility for the genocide." Kocharian also claimed that the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh declared its independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the enclave has never been a part of Azerbaijan. Stating that Nagorno-Karabakh young people have grown up with the will to live in an independent state and won’t retreat from the ways things are, Kocharian underlined the need for the concerned sides in the region to be ready for a solution in Nagorno-Karabakh before the OSCE makes new initiatives. Kocharian stressed that no country that had gained its independence will give up this right and added, "The people of Nagorno-Karabakh also fought for their independence and won it. Therefore they don’t want to lose it."

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