Babacan’s Visit to Armenia in April to ‘Boost’ Relations

ANKARA (Combined Sources)–Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan has accepted an invitation to attend a Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) meeting in Yerevan next month, Hurriyet daily reported on Tuesday.

According to Hurriyet, Babacan accepted the invitation from his Armenian counterpart Eduard Nalbandian as part of efforts targeting the normalization of relations between the neighboring countries.

The meeting, a gathering of foreign ministers from BSEC countries, is scheduled for April 16-17 and will come days before the official day marking the 94th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Armenia assumed the chairmanship of the BSEC last November and has focusing on streamlining several issues, primarily dealing with energy cooperation between the BSEC member countries. The six month rotating chairmanship is set to end in April.

Nalbandian similarly traveled to Istanbul in November to attend the previous BSEC meeting held there. He said then that his country wanted to invite Babacan to the next BSEC meeting in Yerevan.

According to Hurriyet, Babacan’s decision is seen as a gesture that aims at reducing the "risk" of U.S. President Barack Obama properly characterizing the Armenian Genocide in his annual speech on April 24.

Babacan said last Sunday there was still a "risk" that Obama, who is scheduled to visit Turkey in April, would recognize the incidents as genocide, warning that such a move would only impede efforts to reconcile Turkey and Armenia.

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