Turkey to Hold Talks with Armenia on Caucasus Union

ANKARA (Hurriyet)–Turkey sped up its efforts in forming a so-called Caucasus stability and partnership forum Tuesday and announced that it will hold talks with Armenia on possibly joining the union. Meanwhile the US said it was unaware of the initiative.

"Talks will also be held with Armenia after the foreign minister (Ali Babacan) meets his Russian counterpart (Sergei Lavrov) this week. After those talks, the format and contacts with Armenia would be determined," Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on his way to Baku to discuss this proposal with Azeri officials.

The Armenian Foreign Minister reportedly welcomed Erdogan’s proposal saying, “Armenia has always been for dialogue and negotiations, especially on issues that relate to regional cooperation and security.”

The United States has not been informed about such an initiative, Matthew Bryza, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs said on Tuesday. He added he was surprised by Turkey’s efforts.

Turkey proposed the formation of the "Caucasian Stability and Partnership Platform" to resolve the disputed issues in the region through diplomacy and to enhance economic ties following the recent Russian-Georgian unrest.

Erdogan said the proposal was welcomed by both the Russian and Georgian leaders.

"The recent situation in Georgia confirmed the urgent need for ensuring peace, trust and stability in the Caucasus. We as Turkey have crucial interest in doing that," he added.

Meanwhile, a leading member of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Tuesday objected to the government’s initiative, calling an alliance in the Caucasus "a dream."

"This is against nature. It is contrary to reason to assume that countries which have daggers drawn can gather under a pact. Moreover, only Russia will be pleased with such an attempt because it can increase its clout in the region in this way [the Caucasia platform]," said CHP Deputy Chairman Onur Oymen.

"Both regional countries and Western countries have been asserting for the last 15 years that these countries should not be under one large country’s ascendancy, that they should gain their independence in the literal sense and that they should stand on their own two feet. When you propose a pact which is to include Russia, you lead to the re-ascendancy of Russia in the region. This would be very wrong," Oymen told the agency.

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