Turkey’s Security Council to Mull Over Armenia Ties

ANKARA (Combined Sources)–Turkey’s powerful National Security Council (MGK), comprising top state officials and army generals, will meet next week to discuss Turkey’s next step in its negotiations with Armenia to establish diplomatic relations, the Turkish Today’s Zaman Daily reported on Tuesday.

President Abdullah Gul will visit Baku shortly after the April 28 meeting to “inform the Azerbaijani administration about the decisions Turkey has made regarding normalization with Armenia,” Zaman said.

The agenda of the MGK meeting, chaired by Gul, will include a discussion of recent developments in Iraq and the possibility of granting an amnesty for PKK members, the normalization of relations with Armenia and the deployment of Turkish troops in Afghanistan, Today’s Zaman reported, citing anonymous government sources.

Until recently, media reports had said Turkey and Armenia would likely sign soon an agreement on the gradual normalization of bilateral relations. Talks, however, have hit a roadblock this month, following US President Barack Obama’s visit to Turkey on April 6, where he told the Turkish Parliament his views had not changed in reference to the Armenian Genocide.

Analysts close to the negotiations believe Ankara’s recent push to normalize ties with Yerevan were aimed at dissuading President Obama from fulfilling his campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Turkey repeatedly warned Obama that any recognition of its crime against the Armenians would torpedo the talks to open the closed borders.

Since Obama’s visit, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly made clear that diplomatic relations will not be established before a Karabakh settlement. The marked shift in Turkish rhetoric is being reported by Western and Turkish media as a response to Azeri warnings to retaliate if borders are opened before a Karabakh deal acceptable to Baku is signed.

According to Zaman, the agenda item on Armenia-Turkey relations will primarily focus on Azerbaijan’s reaction to the opening of the two countries’ border.

Zaman said the Turkish Army General Staff and the Government both agree that Ankara should not open its border with Armenia until a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

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