(AFP) – Turkey reinforced its ties with neighboring Azerbaijan on Monday when the Turkish foreign minister said his country would not re-open its border with Armenia.
“It is out of the question for now to re-open the Turkish-Armenian border,” Abdullah Gul said, days after visiting Azeri President Ilham Aliev.
Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 to support Baku in its war against Yerevan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. Azerbaijan had feared that Turkey would re-open its border with Armenia in a bid to please the European Union, which it is hoping to join. Aliev said in a recent interview that relations with Ankara would suffer if Turkey again opened the border.
While Turkey’s foreign minister renewed his support for Azerbaijan on Monday, he also urged the two countries to find a solution over Karabakh. “We cannot let this question go into hibernation,” he said. He said Ankara wants to organize a meeting “in the next few months” between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia to help find a settlement over the region.
A Turkish diplomat told AFP that the meeting, the third of its kind in recent years, could take place on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Istanbul on June 29.
Improvement of ties between Azerbaijan and Armenia carry significance for Turkey. Such a prospect can pave the way for a corresponding thaw in relations between Ankara and Yerevan.