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Turkey: Nagorno-Karabakh Settlement Critical To Yerevan-Ankara Deals

October 13, 2009

YEREVAN -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told reporters that his country "cannot adopt a positive attitude" toward Armenia unless it "withdraws from occupied Azerbaijani territories."

Erdogan emphasized that an internationally brokered agreement on the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory is critical to the ratification by the Turkish parliament of the Turkey-Armenia protocols on closer relations, signed on October 10 in Zurich.

If passed by the Turkish and Armenian parliaments, Ankara and Yerevan would restore diplomatic relations and reopen their border, which has been sealed since 1993, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters on October 11 that Armenian forces should withdraw "not only in Karabakh but also the seven Azerbaijani districts adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh that are under occupation."

The comments came hours after Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry criticized Turkey for sealing the deal with Armenia that Baku said "clouds the spirit of brotherly relations" between the two Turkic-speaking countries and is in "direct contradiction to the national interests of Azerbaijan."

Yerevan has not directly responded to Erdogan's statement, but Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian implicitly threatened to walk away from the agreements if Ankara fails to complete the ratification process "within a reasonable time frame."

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/Turkey_NagornoKarabakh_Settlement_Critical_To_YerevanAnkara_Deals/1850493.html

Copyright (c) 2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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