Turkey Seeks Four-Way Summit on Karabakh Conflict

AZERBAIJAN-TURKEY-ALIYEV-GUL

Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev

ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)–Turkey is seeking a summit of Turkish, Russian, Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders to discuss endeavors for a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, sources quoting President Abdullah Gul as saying Friday.

Since negotiations to normalize relations between Armenia and Turkey began last September, Ankara’s has sought to align its conflict with Armenia with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, paving the way for its inclusion into the Karabakh peace process.  This is seen by many commentators and analysts close to the issue as a way to make the merger of the two separate processes seem like a practical option for an international community desperately seeking a quick solution to both issues.

Gul planned to step up efforts for the four-way summit after he met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian in Prague on Thursday.

His meetings came two weeks after Ankara and Yerevan announced that they had “identified a roadmap” for establishing diplomatic relations and reopening the Turkish-Armenian border.The roadmap, kept largely secret from the public, is reported to include a series of conditions Armenia must meet before diplomatic relations are established between the two countries. Those requirements call for the establishment of a joint commission of historians, the recognition of Turkey’s territorial borders, and the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Gul revealed his plans to Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), during a meeting on Wednesday, sources at the MHP told Today’s Zaman.

According to Zaman, Gul told Bahceli that Aliyev is constantly kept informed about the talks with Armenia and reminded the nationalist leader that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to visit Baku next week for talks with Azerbaijani leaders.

Gul also said that Russia also plays  a key role in the region and that it cannot be excluded from efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Russia, which has been unusually silent on the issue, is one of the three co-chairing countries of the OSCE Minsk Group mediating the conflict.

Erdogan is scheduled to visit Russia for talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on May 16. Before the prime ministerial talks, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is expected to meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Washington on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting of UN Security Council member countries. Erdogan’s visit to Russia is expected to be a main issue on the agenda of the talks.

Gul said the venue and date of the proposed four-way summit will become clear after the talks Gul and Erdogan will have with Azerbaijani, Armenian and Russian leaders. If realized, the summit is also likely to tackle Russian-Georgian ties. The tension between the two countries, which fought a brief war over the breakaway region of South Ossetia last summer, has recently escalated again due to NATO military exercises in Georgia that kicked off this week. Armenia, which was slated to participate, pulled out of those exercises days before they kicked off.

Erdogan, meanwhile, is expected to meet with political leaders and representatives of opposition parties during his visit to Baku. He has also told Aliyev that he wants to address the Azerbaijani parliament and give the lawmakers first-hand information about the normalization process with Armenia.

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