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TDN: Turkey blinks to Armenia

Murat Unlu

Following the controversial Copenhagen summit, Turkish officials have begun voicing possible developments in relations with Russia, Iran and especially Armenia. The opening of border gates and transportation lines between Turkey-Armenia-Azerbaijan may boost poor economies of the region, aid in the solution to the longstanding Karabakh problem and contribute to peace and stability in the region.

Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis told a special news channel on Sunday, “We will develop relations with Russia, Iran and Armenia. We will consider Azerbaijan’s concerns when establishing relations with Armenia, but if our economic interests require us to establish relations with Armenia we must do so.”

This is part of Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) new approach to international politics — that is, emphasizing the economic aspects of international relations — which was indicated also in the election manifesto of AK Party.

Speaking to the Turkish Daily News, Azerbaijan Ambassador to Ankara Mamed Aliyev said Turkey had shown its good intentions to Armenia on many occasions and now it was Armenia’s turn to show good intentions to Turkey and to Azerbaijan.

“Turkey has stood by us until now will continue to do so. One million Azerbaijani are living in tents, after being displaced from their land following the invasion of Karabakh by Armenia. We lost 20 percent of our soil there,” he said.

Aliyev said that Armenia was excluded from many of economic projects in the Caucasus because of this attitude, and they are in an economic recession. Two million Armenians have left Armenia because of this.

Deputy president of Turkish Armenian Business Development Council Noyan Soyak said this type of approach would be important for peace and stability in the Caucasus.

“There is still indirect trade between Turkey and Armenia via Georgia and Iran, and if the Gumru border gate (a border gate between Turkey and Armenia) opens, according to our and Armenian Industry Ministry’s researches, the trade between the two countries will reach to $300 million within a year.”

Soyak also stated the opening of the border gate between Armenia and Azerbaijan would be beneficial for trade between Turkey and Central Asia. “The trade between Turkey and Central Asia may reach $1.5 billion in three years. The transportation expenditures will decrease 35 percent with the opening of the border gates and train lines.”

Responding to TDN’s question on whether a solution to the longstanding Karabakh problem is possible or not, Soyak said, “Every party to the problem is seeking a solution, everyone knows concessions are inevitable. Turkey lost a historic chance when Petrosyan was on power in Armenia. But Armenian leader Kocaryan and Azerbaijani leader Aliyev have already met on 14 occasions.”

Soyak also attracted attention to the approaching elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan, and stated, “Solution of the problem may be easier after these elections, but Turkey should not lose this chance.”

Meanwhile AK Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Iranian Foreign Minister Kemal Harazi at Ankara Esenboga Airport, though for only three minutes. Harazi was heading to Libya from Tehran.

Responding to reporters questions Erdogan said they did not speak on anything. “I asked after him,” he said.

Ankara- Turkish Daily News

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