ANKARA (AFP) — President Abdullah Gul sent a reconciliatory message to neighbouring Armenia on Saturday, saying Turkey is "no enemy" to any country in its region, as he mulled a possible landmark trip to Yerevan.
The conflict between Georgia and Russia’shows the need for "early measures to resolve frozen problems in the region and… prevent instability in the future," said Gul in televised remarks in the central city of Nevsehir.
"This is our understanding on all problems. We are no enemy to anyone in the region," he said, reiterating a Turkish proposal to set up a regional forum for stability in the Caucasus.
Gul’s conciliatory remark came in response to a question on whether he would accept an invitation by Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian to go to Yerevan in September to watch a World Cup qualifying match between Turkey and Armenia. He replied he was still evaluating the invitation.
Ankara has refused to establish diplomatic ties with Yerevan since the former Soviet republic gained independence in 1991 because of Armenian efforts to secure international recognition of Armenian massacres under the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
In 1993 Turkey shut its border with Armenia in a show of solidarity with its close ally Azerbaijan, then at war with Armenia, dealing a heavy economic blow to the impoverished nation in the strategic Caucasus region.
Diplomats from Turkey and Armenia met secretly in Switzerland in July in a fresh effort to normalise ties following three rounds of talks in 2005 and 2006. No progress is so far publicly known.
Turkish and Armenian leaders have meanwhile met on the sidelines of international gatherings, including a Black Sea regional summit in Istanbul last year.