ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)—Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu dismissed rumors that circulated last week about the possible opening of the Turkish-Armenian border for a scheduled regional NATO exercises, saying reports to that effect in the media were not accurate.
Turkish media commentators raised questions about the possibility of a border opening between Armenia and Turkey, following reports earlier this month that the Interior Ministry had asked local authorities in the border provinces of Kars and Igdır about preparations for a possible opening.
The ministry had asked the governor’s offices in the two provinces how much time it would take for the gates and roads to be fully functional in the event of a possible border opening, according to reports.
Davutoglu, speaking to reporters in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Saturday, said the communication with the local authorities was nothing but an exchange of information regarding the level of preparedness for a possible post-disaster situation, such as an earthquake, and on ways to deliver aid to victims.
“There is no such thing as the opening of the border. It is not on the government’s agenda and reports to that effect are wrong,” Davutoglu told reporters on the sidelines of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting.
Turkey closed its border in 1993 in solidarity with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh war.
Davutoglu had talks with his Azeri counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov, while in Almaty, during which the border issue came up. “I have told Elmar as well that there is no such thing as a border opening pending. No one should have any such expectations,” he said.
Turkey is planning to take part in an exercise to be held in Armenia by NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center.
Foreign Ministry officials last week told Today’s Zaman that Turkey will participate in the disaster response exercise called “Armenia 2010,” slated to take place from September 11 to 17.. The officials said the border may be opened temporarily during the exercise and solely for the purposes of this particular event. “During technical discussions at NATO headquarters in Brussels a while ago, when such a possibility was raised by NATO officials, the Turkish side responded favorably,” an official said.
On Friday, the Foreign Ministry reaffirmed that a possible border opening would only be for the purposes of the exercise. In a statement, the ministry said an “exceptional and temporary” opening of the border was under consideration in case Turkey is asked to allow the overland transfer of the material to be used in the exercise to Armenia. Other comments and reports regarding this issue do not reflect the truth,” said the statement.