Speaking at a press conference at the Turkish Embassy in Washington on Thursday, Davutoğlu recalled a meeting held between Erdoğan and US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the nuclear summit and said issues concerning Iran, developments in the Caucasus and the process of normalization with Armenia were on the agenda of the meeting. Davutoğlu's press conference was held after his meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The meeting marked their third since the beginning of the week.
“We are convinced that a window of opportunity for a diplomatic resolution still exists. We will continue doing our best on this issue,” Davutoğlu was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency. He underlined that during their meetings with US officials they clearly reiterated Turkey’s position favoring diplomatic means instead of imposing sanctions on the neighboring country to deal with the dispute surrounding its nuclear program.
“We plan to share with Iran particularly our impressions of the meetings we had with the US administration by going to Iran in the shortest time possible,” Davutoğlu said, adding that he would visit Tehran next week.
“We want neither military conflict in our region nor the slowing down of our region’s economic dynamism via new sanctions,” he said, while also stressing Turkey’s firm opposition to any country possessing nuclear weapons.
On Friday, Davutoğlu was scheduled to arrive in Brasília to have talks with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Brazil and Turkey -- which both hold nonpermanent seats on the UN Security Council and are reluctant to back a Washington push to impose sanctions as a way out of the diplomatic standoff over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions -- are studying an alternative proposal to deal with Iran’s controversial nuclear program.
‘Aliyev’s absence loss of opportunity’
During his visit to Baku on Monday, he will have a detailed exchange of views with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev concerning the Turkish side’s meetings in Washington this week, Davutoğlu said, apparently referring to Erdoğan’s meeting with Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan and his meeting with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian in particular.
“We will also have consultations [with Aliyev] concerning the steps we will take from now on,” he added.
Reiterating Turkey’s uneasiness with the fact that Azerbaijan was not invited to the nuclear summit even though Armenia was extended an invitation, Davutoğlu said Turkey did its best to convince US officials to invite Azerbaijan to the summit. He, nonetheless, also noted that the US side informed the Turkish side of its “objective reasoning” for not inviting Azerbaijan.
“But of course, the presence of Armenia, Turkey and the co-chairs of the Minsk process [at the summit] was a very important opportunity,” he said, referring to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s participation in the summit.
The Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the three co-chairs of which are France, Russia and the US, has striven to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a territorial conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“In my opinion, if Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev had been here, the positive meetings we have held so far could have resulted in even more progress; a very important opportunity has been missed. I’m saying this with sincerity and from the heart,” Davutoğlu said.
Recalling that Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu, the Foreign Ministry undersecretary, last week paid consecutive visits first to Yerevan and then to Baku as Erdoğan’s special envoy, Davutoğlu said Turkey listened to Aliyev’s fundamental stance and concerns about the issue. He didn’t elaborate on whether he meant the issue of the absence of an invitation to the summit or the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.
Davutoğlu highlighted that he would travel to Azerbaijan soon after wrapping up his visit to Brazil “not even spending time with [my] family,” and added, “That’s to say, we won’t let even one day pass.”
Following talks with Sarksyan earlier this week, Erdoğan said maintaining regional peace is among the fundamental elements of Armenia and Turkey’s efforts for the normalization of their relations; thus, the resolution of the territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan is naturally linked to this process.
Erdoğan’s remarks came when reminded of Sarksyan’s comments on the issue, which were made after their meeting. In remarks delivered at a gathering of the Armenian community, Sarksyan made clear that his country would not accept Turkey’s imposition of the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute as a precondition to the normalization of relations.