Oskanian Gul Meet in Istanbul

ISTANBUL (AFP/Armenpress/RFE/RL)–Under pressure by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU)–Armenia–Azerbaijan and Turkey pledged on Monday to seek to resolve their tangled disputes through trilateral meetings.

The foreign ministers of the three troubled neighbors–Vartan Oskanian of Armenia–Elmar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan–and Abdullah Gul of Turkey met on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Istanbul.

"The dialogue was quite good," Oskanian told reporters after the meeting. "I have nothing concrete to state at this point–but the meeting was quite positive. . . This was a meeting between the three equal sides which have interests and benefits in the region"

Referring to the enlargement of the EU and NATO–Oskanian said–"We need to shape a new strategic vision for the Caucasus so that we can keep pace with the developmen’s around us."

Emphasizing that both NATO and the EU were anxious to stabilize the conflict-torn Caucasian region–Gul told reporters after the meeting that they had discussed "ways and means of cooperating to achieve stability through constructive means."

He said he and his counterparts had agreed to hold further trilateral meetings later in the year.

Mamedyarov added: "We will try to do our best to bring peace and stability to the region."

Armenia and Azerbaijan are divided by a long-standing dispute Mountainous Karabagh.

A close ally of Azerbaijan–Turkey has declined to establish diplomatic ties with Armenia and remains bitter at Yerevan’s efforts to secure international recognition of the Armenian genocide by Ottoman Turkey.

Ankara is under pressure by the EU (which it seeks to join) to re-open its border with Armenia–which it closed in 1993 in a show of solidarity with Baku.

Oskanian told reporters he had discussed the issue with Gul in a bilateral meeting earlier in the day–but it would be premature to expect an immediate re-opening of the border.

Oskanian used his participation in the NATO summit–marred by violent clashes between Turkish police and left-wing protesters–to meet with Patriarch Mesrob Mutafian–the spiritual leader of Turkey’s small Armenian community. He also delivered a speech to a group of Istanbul Armenia’s.


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