Turkey’s New Foreign Minister Eases Azeri Concerns Over Karabakh

davatoglu-azimovANKARA (Reuters)–Turkey’s new Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu sought on Monday to ease Azerbaijan’s concerns over efforts by Turkey and Armenia to establish diplomatic relations.

Azerbaijan, Turkey’s ally and a key supplier of gas, has reacted angrily to those talks because it fears losing leverage over Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks mediated by the OSCE

Minsk Group.

Davutoglu, appointed to the post in a wide cabinet reshuffle on Friday, met Azeri Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov in Ankara on Monday to discuss Azeri concerns over the roadmap, a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

“It is not coincidental that the minister is holding his first meeting with the Azeri deputy minister”, the spokesman told Reuters.

“We have not had any disruption in relations with Azerbaijan but you can expect reciprocal high level contacts to intensify in the coming period,” the spokesman said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet Azeri President Ilham Aliyev in the Azeri capital Baku on May 13, the state-run Anatolian news agency said. Erdogan will also meet Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on May 16, Anatolian said.

Davutoglu, the architect of Turkey’s expanded foreign policy beyond its traditional Western-oriented focus, said over the weekend that Turkey now had a stronger foreign policy vision with regards to the Middle East and Caucasus.

“We should be trying to turn the zero-problem policy with neighbors into a policy of maximum interest,” he said after taking office on Saturday from Ali Babacan.

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