Normalization with Armenia Runs Parallel to Karabakh Resolution, Says Turkey’s Deputy FM

ANKARA (Combined Sources)–Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister said Monday that the normalization of Turkey’s relations with Armenia runs parallel to the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement process, stressing that “Azerbaijan need not worry or doubt” Ankara’s diplomatic rapprochement with Yerevan.

“Being our nearest neighbor in the region, Azerbaijan is attentively observing the normalization of the relations between Turkey and Armenia,” Ahmet Unal Chevikoz, Turkey’s former ambassador to Azerbaijan, told Voice of America’s Turkey Bureau. “On the other hand, there is unsolved Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

“It is normal that Azerbaijan is observing these processes,” he said. “But Azerbaijan need not worry or doubt anything.”

Chevikoz said also that he had held “high-level meetings” with U.S. officials in Washington and discussed President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit to Ankara. He did not specify when those meetings were held.

“Obama’s visit is very important,” Chevikoz said commenting on his meetings. “The relations between the two countries were discussed during the recent visit of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Ankara. We saw that the two countries had very significant foreign policy targets. We have a common agenda on a number of issues, including our relations with Iraq, Afghanistan, Caucasus and Russia.”

Commenting on Turkey’s policy with on Armenia, Chevikoz said he discussed ways to improve Turkey-Armenia relations during the high level meetings. “We hope the relations will normalize soon and it will be continuous. There are some preparations in this respect and these preparations will be realized with support of the Foreign Ministers of the two countries,” he added.

Chevikoz remarks came as Foreign Minister Ali Babacan on Monday warned that the real issue at hand was not the normalization of Turkish Armenia relations, which are “improving,” but rather the current Armenian-Azeri impasse over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He said this was the real cause for concern, Today’s Zaman reported.

"Turkey-Armenia ties are improving,” Babacan told a press conference in Ankara. “Azerbaijan-Armenia problems are more serious than Armenia-Turkey problems. Twenty percent of Azerbaijan’s lands have been occupied.”

He also commented on whether or not he would be flying to Yerevan in April to attend a meeting of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Forum in Armenia’scheduled for April 16-17. He said it was still unclear whether or not he would make the trip, noting only that he is scheduled to attend a meeting in Pakistan that same day.

Turkey’s former ambassador to Azerbaijan on Monday echoed Bababacan’s sentimen’s on the Karabakh conflict, saying also that the normalization of Turkish-Armenian ties runs parallel to the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement process.

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