ANKARA (World Bulletin)–Despite signs talks have stalled over Ankara’s demands to link relations with Armenia to a resolution of the unrelated Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Monday that Ankara continues to be committed to negotiations with Yerevan to normalize their relations.
“Turkey is committed to build its relations with Armenia on healthy grounds as it did with its other neighbors,” Davutoglu said Monday at a press in Ankara.
Davutoglu left on Monday for a tour of Pakistan and Afghanistan on his first trip to the two countries since he assumed office.
“This is a common future for all of us — for Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Russia as well as other players of the region. We all have to show good faith and avoid moves that could turn the positive into negative,” Davutoglu said.
Davutoglu met late last week with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington for talks on the issue. Speaking after their meeting, the Turkish Foreign Minister said Ankara remains “fully committed to our normalization process with Armenia.”
His remarks on Monday, meanwhile, came a day before the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs urged Armenia and Turkey to make progress in the stalled reconciliation talks.
Speaking at a news conference, Phillip Gordon reaffirmed Washington’s strong support for the year-long negotiations between Armenia and Turkey and called for an unconditional normalization of their relations.
“Turkey-Armenia normalization would benefit Turkey, it would benefit Armenia and it would benefit the entire region. Because of that we don’t think it should be linked to anything else,” he said, commenting on Turkish leaders’ renewed linkage between the reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border and a resolution of the Karabakh conflict.
Armenia and Turkey said in April that they had agreed to a road map for normalizing relations, but Turkey has stalled the negotiations since the announcement.
The still unpublicized “roadmap,” has been seen as a ploy by Turkey to get U.S. President Barack Obama to backtrack on his earlier pledges to recognize the Armenian Genocide in his April 24 statement.
Ankara had repeatedly warned Washington that an official recognition of its crime against the Armenian people would torpedo reconciliation efforts with Armenia.
Shortly after the agreement was revealed, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would not establish diplomatic relations with Armenia until a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict favoring its ally Azerbaijan is reached.
Since then, the Prime Minister has consistently repeated that precondition, leveraging it to gain a role for Turkey in the ongoing Karabakh negotiation process mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group.
Erdogan explicitly reaffirmed that linkage during his visit to Azerbaijan on May 13, saying that it is “impossible” for Turkey to open its border with Armenia unless the “Occupation of Karabakh” ends.