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Lebedev: Kars Agreement can not be challenged

Responding to Armenian demands of Turkish land, Russian Ambassador Lebedev says it is impossible to revise the Kars Agreement and rather advise Yerivan to focus on resolving the Nagorno-Karabagh dispute. Here is the full news article from Turkish Daily News

Russian Ambassador to Turkey Alexander Lebedev stated that the Kars Agreement, which was signed by Soviet Russia and Turkey in 1921 demarcating the border between Soviet Union and Turkey, could not be challenged. “My personal opinion is that I do not think the Kars Agreement can be revised,” said Lebedev in an exclusive interview to the Turkish Daily News.

“Those border disputes were once more settled at Potsdam in the wake of World War II. Legally, the Kars Agreement can not be challenged. I never heard that Armenian President Robert Kocharian has demanded Turkish territory.” said Lebedev. Referring to the statement of the Armenian Parliament’s Human Rights Commission, which demanded the Turkish cities of Kars and Ardahan to be returned to Armenia, Lebedev said, “They would be better to concentrate on resolving the Nagorno-Karabagh dispute.” Stressing that he could not comment on the internal affairs of Armenia, Lebedev said similar demands were raised by former Soviet leader Stalin after World War II and they were not satisfied. He added that despite the fact that the Kars agreement was signed between Moscow and Ankara, Yerivan should discuss today’s border problems directly with Ankara. “If I were Armenian, I would not raise those issues at all, it does not help at all,” said Lebedev.

Commenting on the so-called Armenian genocide bill in the Russian Parliament Duma, Lebedev said there was not a resolution but a statement from Duma and it had been forgotten since then. “There was an attempt recently, influenced by the French Parliament’s decision and efforts in the U.S. Congress, by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the notorious political figure. Our Foreign Minister immediately intervened and asked deputies not to proceed with the bill. The bill died away and hopefully will not come again,” said Lebedev.

Touching on the sticky issue of projects on energy routes from Central Asia to Turkey, Lebedev said all decisions should be taken on a commercial basis rather than with political considerations. Stressing that Russia is not against Baku-Ceyhan or any other project, Lebedev stressed that no party should politicize economic issues. Commenting on the deal between Turkey and Azerbaijan to export Azeri gas to Turkey, Lebedev said: “The agreement looks rather general. It is worded in very general terms, details on its implementation should be clarified. But let me say that we are not against Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan. What we say is simply let’s sit on the table and let the experts study the details and allow projects that will be open to commercial competitiveness.”

Asked to comment on a high-level Russian official’s statement that Russia was against Kazakhstan’s decision to give oil and gas to the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline in a bid to make it economically feasible, Lebedev said one should not take those words “dramatically.” Stressing that both in Turkey and Russia there are people who are against developing bilateral relations between the two countries, he said there was only one person in Russia who is fully capable of making such statements.”It is the President, Mr. Putin. He has never made a statement that he is against the project of Kazakh oil being pumped into Baku-Ceyhan.” said Lebedev.

‘Strategic Partnership is possible in the future’

Lebedev indicated that some Turkish authorities have characterized the relations between the two countries as an “advanced partnership” and added that they “fully agreed with that.” He said, “A strategic partnership is possible in the future. We were rivals in the past but it is not the case anymore. We recognize the role of Turkey in the Caucasus. We should work on joint projects.”

Lebedev stressed that the Soviet Union was the first country to recognize the Turkish republic with the Friendship Agreement signed on March 15, 1921. He indicated that prime ministers of Turkey and Russia have exchanged letters to commemorate this important date.

‘We are not like Americans’

Stressing that the two countries should develop their cooperation in every possible field, Lebedev said they were ready to provide Turkey weapons with high technology. He stressed that they were not like Americans and would not hesitate to give high-tech to Turkey. “We are not like Americans. They give you the license and some spare parts but never the real high technology. We trust modern Turkey,” said the Russian Ambassador. Asked if he meant that the United States did not trust Turkey enough to provide it with high-tech, Lebedev declined to comment further.

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