Erdogan Hints at Armenian Involvement in New Union

BODRUM, Turkey (Combined Sources)–Armenia’s participation in a South Caucasus Union will greatly increase the stability of the region, Turkish Prime Minister Recap Tayyip Erdogan told a press conference on Thursday after returning from his trip to Moscow and Tbilisi to garner support for the Turkish backed regional security platform.

Erdogan said Turkey also wanted Azerbaijan to participate in the platform for regional peace and security, adding that economic cooperation and energy security were also essential issues for the body.

“Next week the platform will be discussed during a visit to Baku,” he said. “We hope that Azerbaijan will accept it as well as the new co-operation platform will help in settling the ethnic conflicts in the region “Erdogan said.

According to Erdogan, the creation of the Caucasian union will solve conflicts in the Caucasus based on principles of the Kars treaty signed between Russia and Turkey in 1921. The Kars treaty established the present borders of the region, placing Nakhchivan and Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan would meet his Russian counterpart Segei Lavrov next week to kick start the process and launch talks to develop the idea further, Erdogan said.

“Of course the Minsk process is ongoing in the region. The United States, Russia and France are the primary executives of this process. But no conclusion has been reached in this process which has taken nearly 13 years. We want this process to be accelerated… The solution of the Nagorno-Karabak conflict will also end the problems between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” Erdogan said.

He went on to say that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict stands as the principal obstacle to the political stability, economic development and regional cooperation in the Southern Caucasus.

Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan met with Saakashvili in Tbilisi on Thursday to discuss the recent conflict in Georgia and South Ossetia and put forth Turkey’s proposal for a Caucasian stability forum.

Turkey wants to secure peace, and to form a cooperation platform which would include Russia and Georiga and serve to develop a common stability for the region, Erdogan told a joint press conference with Saakashivili.

“We asked Georgia to participate in this platform. Our proposal was also welcomed by Russia,” he added.

Erdogan also said Turkey supports Georgia’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, adding he would visit Azerbaijan to discuss the security of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

Erdogan on Wednesday met with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow where he underlined the “large importance” of regional solidarity. Turkish and Russian foreign ministers would speed up efforts to develop the Stability and Cooperation Platform in the Caucasus, Erdogan said in Russia, adding Turkey and Russia agreed to work together to develop the platform.

“We want it to provide for economic cooperation [and] to lead to cooperation on regional peace and security,” he said. “We also want this establishment to assume crisis management and seek solutions in case of a problem in the region,” he added.

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