Turkey ‘Firm’ on Armenia Talks, Says Davutoglu

CORFU, Greece (Hurriyet)–Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had a brief meeting late Sunday with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting of the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Corfu.

According to Hurriyet, Davutoglu expressed Turkey’s “unyielding determination” to normalize relations with neighboring Armenia.

Davutoglu’s remarks come amid a period of uncertainty in the Armenian-Turkish negotiations following efforts by Turkey to link its talks with Armenia to a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict—a process that international mediators say is unrelated. Last month, the OSCE Minsk Group warned Ankara not to jeopardize either process by making one conditional on the other.

“This approach is in line with our vision to have zero problems with our neighbors,” Davutoglu told reporters. He also stated that Turkey had a sustainable welfare, security and peace perspective on the Caucasus, and that if all of the parties involved could work together, a positive outcome could ultimately be achieved.

The OSCE and NATO meetings, according to Davutoglo, were productive, particularly the opportunity he was given to meet with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni. During sideline talks, Davutoglu and Bakoyianni agreed that the two nations should work towards common interests with elevated dialogue as opposed to discussing certain tense issues that might spark crises.

Ultimately, Davutoglu said, though it is natural for varied parties to have differences of opinion, they should also be aware of one another’s positions and treat them with respect.

“Minorities should act like a bridge between the two countries,” said Davutoglu, “and this role should be strengthened.” He added that both countries were in support of the ongoing Cyprus negotiation process.

Davutoglu said a European Union document that holds Turkey responsible for illegal human trafficking is false, asserting that it was not a Turkish-Greek issue, and that both Turkey and Greece are transit countries rather than target countries.

“This issue is a crime of humanity and a global matter,” said Davutoglu, “and should be handled as such. We will naturally offer every type of cooperation.”

A more detailed meeting between the two ministers in Turkey has been scheduled for the near future.

The Turkish minister also engaged in discussions with EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana, British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, and Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Azim Azimov.

Davutoglu said that the EU and Turkey decided to cooperate on foreign policy, and quoted Solana as saying that the EU appreciated Turkey’s good relations with all actors.

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