Turkey says reconciliation process with Armenia continues

Turkey says reconciliation process with Armenia continues

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu speaks at a joint news conference with his Gambian counterpart, Mamadou Tangara, in Ankara.

October 05, 2010, Tuesday/ 18:08:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Monday that the reconciliation process with Armenia is continuing, pledging that efforts in this regard will not cease until the advent of peace in the Caucasus.

Davutoğlu, speaking before reporters at a joint news conference with his Gambian counterpart, Mamadou Tangara, who is visiting Turkey, said the reconciliation process between Turkey and Armenia has never stopped so that there is no need to start a new one, when asked if a new process will be kicked off after Armenia suspended proceeding with protocols in April of this year.

The Turkish foreign minister said the process is a continuing one for Turkey and that it will not finish until the advent of peace in the Caucasus. Reminded that in late September, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, he met with Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, who made great efforts in mediating between Turkey and Armenia over the past two years to finalize twin protocols on the normalization of relations, Davutoğlu said he always exchanges views on this matter with the relevant sides. Davutoğlu also said he met with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov twice in New York to discuss the issue.

He said as Turkey does not consider the process to be over, Turkey doesn’t think similar direct or indirect talks and meetings are “special cases.” The foreign minister also claimed that political dialogue must continue and that the sides should mutually respect borders for a lasting peace in the Caucasus.

In this framework, Davutoğlu said, Azerbaijan is a special and brotherly country and that Turkey will continue to make every effort to revamp relations with Armenia as a neighboring country.

Speaking about the re-launch of indirect proximity talks between Israel and Syria under Turkish auspices, Davutoğlu said he had a chance to briefly discuss Israeli-Syrian peace talks with Syrian Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmani and his colleague, Walid al-Moallem. But he said he could not go into details.

Al-Moallem told reporters on Sunday that any new indirect negotiations with Israel should be mediated only by Turkey and must resume where they left off. Ankara has mediated five rounds of proximity talks between Israel and Syria in 2008, but the negotiations, aimed at withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied Golan Heights, were halted after Israel’s latest Gaza assault.

Davutoğlu also said they discussed regional developments, such as the situation in Iraq and Lebanon with his Syrian counterparts. Reminded of Syria’s position on Turkish mediation, Davutoğlu said developments from now will depend on Israel’s position and that it is a duty for Turkey to contribute to peace in the region. “But for this, there should be sides wishing for peace,” the Turkish foreign minister said.

Speaking about Turkey’s relations with Gambia, Davutoğlu said Gambia was the first African country to open an embassy in Turkey this past June after Turkey launched an “African initiative,” which includes improving bilateral relations with African countries through opening embassies in African countries.

Tangara, in his speech, urged Turkish businessmen to invest in his country and thanked Turkey for its support.

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