Armenian-Turkish Border Crossing Being Repaired, Says Azeri Diplomat

ISTANBUL (Combined Sources)–Repair works have been launched at Alican checkpoint at the Turkish-Armenian border closed since 1993, an Azerbaijani diplomat was quoted by Azeri sources as saying on Wednesday

“Repair works are underway in the border crossing point in the territory of Armenia. The roads leading to Alican are being covered with asphalt,” Azerbaijan’s consul general to the eastern Turkish province of Kars, Hasan Zeynalov, told the Azeri Press Agency (APA).

Zeynalov also told Azeri Press Agency that residents in the eastern Turkish provinces of Kars and Igdir, where the Alican checkpoint was located, were apparently “very concerned” over the possibility of re-opening of the border.

“Kars and Igdir residents do not understand the reasons for this step. They are against the re-opening of border,” he is quoted as saying.

Azerbaijan, which shares linguistic and cultural ties with Turkey, has expressed deep concern over the possibility of a breakthrough in Turkish-Armenian ties, fearing reopening the border would weaken its hand in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azeri officials have expressed concern over the prospect of the border being reopened and Baku has warned it may even go one step further in halting the sale of natural gas to Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday told a press conference that a deal between Armenian and Turkey will have to wait until Armenia and Azerbaijan first settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Recent media reports had suggest the two neighboring countries are close to sign a memorandum that will lead to normalization of the relations.

According to the Turkish Hurriyet newspaper, diplomatic sources told the Turkish broadcaster CNN Turk on Thursday that although there are improvements on the talks, the border is unlikely to be opened before April 24, the annual day of commemoration for the Armenian Genocide.

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