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groong: ANKARA: Turkish minister says border with Armenia not to reopen while Azeri territory occupied

TRT 2 television, Ankara

9 Jan 04

[Presenter] Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has said that Turkey will not
open its border gate with Armenia so long as the Armenian occupation of
Azerbaijani territory continues. Gul is on his first official visit to
Azerbaijan since the election of Ilham Aliyev to the presidency. Koray
Serpen from the TRT team in Baku reports the following:

[Reporter] Gul, who replied to reporters’ questions on his arrival
in Baku, stressed that Turkey wants the solution of the problems,
especially that of Nagorno-Karabakh, that constitute an obstacle
to regional cooperation in the Caucasus. Noting that Ankara will
fulfil its duties in that direction, Gul said: The solution of the
Azerbaijani-Armenian problems within the framework of the principle
of respect for territorial integrity will make a positive contribution
to our relations with Armenia.

In Baku, Gul first visited the cemetery where those who were martyred
in the name of Azerbaijan’s independence are buried and placed a
wreath. The people showed a friendly interests in the foreign minister,
who also visited the mosque inside the cemetery. Gul later visited
the grave of former President Heydar Aliyev.

On the first day of his contacts, Gul met the Azerbaijani prime
minister and foreign minister. He later held a joint news conference
with his Azerbaijani counterpart. Noting that Turkey, Azerbaijan and
Armenia will get together for the solution of the regional problems,
Gul announced that for the moment the border gate with Armenia will
not be opened.

[Gul] Since this is our region, since we are neighbours in this region
and since there is a problem, naturally contacts and dialogues will
be held to solve this problem. It is out of the question for Turkey
to open its borders before the occupation in Azerbaijan ends.

[Reporter] In response to the democratization process in Azerbaijan,
Gul said: Azerbaijan is a Council of Europe [COE] member. I am
confident that Azerbaijan will try and adapt to the COE criteria in
this process that has begun. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister [Vilayat]
Quliyev said that his country is at the start of its democratization
process and that it is making efforts in that direction.

In reply to another question, Gul said that the Azerbaijani-NATO
cooperation will not create tension in the region, adding that Russia
which has a partnership with NATO should view this as such.

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