Turkey moves to host trilateral summit with Armenia, Azerbaijan

Following a landmark visit to Yerevan, where he watched a World Cup qualifying match »»
Following a landmark visit to Yerevan, where he watched a World Cup qualifying match between the national teams of the two countries in September, President Abdullah Gül is readying to take another bold step to contribute to regional peace in the Caucasus by soon hosting a trilateral summit with the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Gül, who introduced his proposal for the trilateral meeting during his meeting with Azerbaijan's visiting President Ilham Aliyev on Wednesday, received a positive response from the Azerbaijani leader, diplomatic sources told Today's Zaman yesterday.

Gül's initiative follows another meeting between Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan hosted in Moscow over the weekend by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. There, Aliyev and Sarksyan agreed to develop confidence-building measures as they search for a way to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Gül has already voiced support for the Moscow talks and expressed hope that it will be followed by other steps, while the Turkish Foreign Ministry, separately, said that a network of relations based on cooperation and mutual trust within the framework of Turkey's proposal for a regional platform could build confidence between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Turkish side will convey its proposal for a trilateral summit to the Armenian side. The exact date and venue of the meeting will be decided later; however, İstanbul has been mentioned as the probable venue.

"The summit may take place in a few months," a Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Today's Zaman.

With observers assuming that Turkey's proposal for such a summit is also related to its proactive drive toward handling of Armenian genocide allegations, the summit is likely to take place before April 24, -- the day which Armenians commemorate anniversary of the alleged genocide. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov told Today's Zaman that the decision concerning the meeting's venue and date was up to Turkey, adding that agenda of the trilateral summit didn't necessarily have to be limited to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Issues related to all parties can be discussed during the meeting, the minister said, while also reiterating support for Turkey's proposal to establish a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform.

Turkey's proposal came following a brief war between Georgia and Russia in August, and it aims to bring Turkey, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan and Georgia together around the same table.

Gül, meanwhile, accepted an invitation extended by Aliyev to participate in an international energy summit to be held in Baku on Nov. 14. This will be Gül's third visit to Azerbaijan since being elected president in August 2007. Heads of state from Bulgaria, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Ukraine as well as representatives from the European Union and the United States are expected to participate in the summit.

Aliyev urges Yerevan to fulfill international obligations

Describing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as the biggest problem facing regional peace and security, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev yesterday urged Armenia to withdraw its troops from Nagorno-Karabakh and obey the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. The call from Aliyev came as he addressed a meeting of Turkish Parliament on the second day of his official two-day visit to Ankara. "Turkey actively dictates policy on these issues and will intervene seriously in regional problems in the future. It will have positive results. We believe that Turkey's initiative and sincere approach will bring peace to the region. We are living in a very sensitive region. There is a cease-fire, but that does not mean peace and stability in the Caucasus," Aliyev said, adding that the biggest problem for peace and stability in the region is the occupation of Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region by Armenia.

"Armenia's policy of occupation and ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijan has resulted in the occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijani lands. Nearly 1 million Azerbaijanis have been turned into refugees and displaced persons in their homeland. Our territorial integrity has been violated. Armenia refuses to obey UN Security Council resolutions. Those resolutions call for the liberation of Azerbaijani lands," Aliyev said. "We hope that Azerbaijan's territorial integrity will be restored and that the country will be saved from occupation and ethnic cleansing. Armenia must display political will and fulfill the resolutions of the international organizations for that," he added. Ankara Today's Zaman