ANKARA—Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said Armenia’s invitation to Turkey to attend the Yerevan meeting of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) member states is an ordinary process.
“This invitation should not be viewed as something special. All members have been invited to the meeting,” Davutoglu said at a joint press conference with his British counterpart William Hague, Milliyet reports.
“We want the relations between Turkey and Armenia to normalize, the problem between Azerbaijan and Armenia to be solved and sustainable peace to be established in the South Caucasus as soon as possible,” he stressed.
“Azerbaijani President Ilhaam Aliyev was on a visit to Turkey last week. There were extensive consultations on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as on matters relating to relations between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia. We all want to take steps to speed up the process,” Davutoglu said.
“Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sarkisian held a meeting a couple of days ago. The meetings will continue. I discussed this in detail with Kerry on the same day,” Davutoglu added.
Spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Tigran Balayan confirmed yesterday that “invitations for participation in the 29th meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization have been sent out to the Foreign Ministers of all participating countries.”
Turkey is stepping up its efforts in bringing peace and stability in the Caucasus region, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu stated yesterday, saying: “It’s time for peace in the Caucasus.”
During a presentation at the Parliament’s Budget and Planning Commission where his ministry’s budget for 2014 was debated, the minister said they discussed efforts to revive the Minsk process with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during his recent visit to Washington and would have talks on the issue during their visit to Russia. Later in the day, Davutoğlu was scheduled to depart for St. Petersburg in order to accompany Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who will co-chair a Turkey-Russia High-Level Cooperation Council, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The OSCE’s so-called Minsk Group has been spearheading attempts to negotiate a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Baku and Yerevan. U.S., Russia and France are the co-chairs of the group.
Davutoğlu stressed the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia would be maintained in parallel to steps regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement.
Elaborating on his invitation to Armenia for a meeting of the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) in Yerevan, the minister said bilateral problems between the states are not obstacles to participate in such meetings. He recalled that even Azerbaijan, which has vital problems with Armenia, has been acceding to such invitations from Armenia.
Yet, although not excluding the idea of participating in a Yerevan meeting, he will make his final decision according to the overlapping schedule of a visit by German President Joachim Gauck to Turkey on the very same day, a Turkish diplomat told Hürriyet Daily News.
Opposition parties, meanwhile, harshly criticized Turkey’s foreign policy on Syria, with the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Aytuğ Atıcı having challenged Davutoglu’s argument of the “humanitarian aspect” of Turkish foreign policy.
Atıcı accused the government of turning a blind eye to the transfer of arms to the Syrian opposition through Turkish territory.
“You do the same as what al-Assad does to his people. The Turkish state shoots fire at its people, al-Assad does too. The sole difference is numbers. He killed thousands; in our country seven were killed… Was it al-Assad that killed those in Gezi?” Atıcı asked, referring to the six protesters and one police officer who lost their lives during the anti-government protests during the Gezi Park unrest.
The tension in the meeting has risen as opposition party deputies harshly criticized Davutoğlu on the issue of the al-Nusra Front in Syria.
CHP Deputy Chair Faruk Loğoğlu also criticized Davutoğlu about Turkey’s stance on the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front in Syria. “Although we have asked again and again, you did not designate al-Nusra as a terrorist organization,” he said.
Davutoğlu, answering the opposition lawmaker’s questions, reacted to the accusations about al-Qaeda and reproached the “claims having sympathy” for the group. “There cannot be a larger defamation than affiliating a Turkish foreign minister with al-Qaeda,” Davutoğlu said, adding Turkey rejects all “terrorist organizations including al-Qaeda.”