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Armenia invites Davutoğlu for economic cooperation meeting

Armenia has invited Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to Yerevan to attend a meeting of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) in early December, saying it will be pleased to see the Turkish foreign minister in the Armenian capital


The invitation came soon after Davutoğlu requested in mid-October support from Switzerland to help overcome conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan to open the way for Ankara to repair ties with Yerevan, which have been cool regarding the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Following Turkey’s initiative to help find a solution to the Armenia-Azerbaijan impasse, the invitation sent to Davutoğlu is interpreted as a positive sign from Yerevan towards Ankara’s efforts.

The invitation for the BSEC meeting is sent to all member countries of the organization, but the invitation sent to Turkey added that the Armenian side will be pleased to see Davutoğlu in Yerevan.

According to Turkish officials who talked to Today’s Zaman, Davutoğlu is considering attending the meeting that will be held on Dec. 12; however, his decision will be finalized according to the trajectory of the ongoing reconciliation talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

On Tuesday, the president of Armenia, Serzh Sarksyan, and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, met in Vienna for their first face-to-face talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict after nearly two years.

If the two leaders agree to continue dialogue on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in talks in Vienna, Davutoğlu is expected to attend the BSEC meeting in Yerevan.

A bloody conflict erupted between ethnic Azeris and Armenians in 1991 over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous, predominantly Armenian-populated enclave within Azerbaijani borders. Armenian-backed armed forces seized 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory, killing 30,000 people. In a display of solidarity with Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, Turkey closed its borders with Armenia.

Davutoğlu also raised the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh with his American counterpart, John Kerry, during his talks in Washington on Monday, Turkish officials said. The Turkish foreign minister also talked over the phone both with Aliyev and Sarksyan about the two leaders’ Vienna meeting three days before the talks.

“Turkey recognizes Armenia; we only do not have diplomatic relations. President Abdullah Gül had visited Yerevan for a national football match [in 2008]. There is no reason for Davutoğlu to visit [Yerevan]. But the developments in the region should be available [for the foreign minister’s visit],” said Turkish officials.

Gül became the first Turkish leader to visit Yerevan in September 2008 for the first occurrence of what was to be dubbed “football diplomacy.” Together with his Armenian counterpart, Gül watched a World Cup qualifier match between the two countries’ teams.

The officials, however, noted that the BSEC meeting overlaps with a visit by German President Joachim Gauck to Turkey.

Davutoğlu told Swiss officials in mid-October in Switzerland that Turkey is ready to normalize its relations with Armenia, but he made it clear that Yerevan should first leave the Azerbaijani territories it has occupied. The foreign minister added that once Switzerland convinces Armenia to leave the occupied territories, Ankara will open its borders with Armenia. The Swiss officials responded positively to Davutoğlu’s proposal, according to officials.

Davutoğlu had pointed out that relations with Armenia are important for Turkey and that Turkey is trying to find new ideas and solutions to develop and cover more ground when it comes to the ties. He had hinted that Turkey will increase its studies for better relations with its neighbor in the coming days.

Today’s Zaman

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