Sunday, May 20, 2007

EU invites Turkey to adopt broader Caucasus policy

May 19, 2007
Turkish Daily News – ANKARA

Peter Semneby, EU special representative for the South Caucasus, suggests Ankara not narrow the scope of cooperation with the 27-nation bloc in the region due to problems with neighboring Armenia

A senior European Union official has called on Turkey not to limit its Caucasus policy to the problems with neighboring Armenia, saying that the strained ties with Yerevan were narrowing the scope of cooperation between Ankara and the bloc in the region.

“Turkey and the EU have common interests in terms of reform and energy security in the region but this cooperation is limited because of problems between Turkey and Armenia,” Peter Semneby, EU special representative for the South Caucasus, told a conference on Friday at the Middle East Technical University.

He said the problems with Yerevan constrained Ankara's role in the region and narrowed the context of regional cooperation. “I hope this limitation will be removed in time,” he added.

Turkish-Armenian relations dominated the conference on the South Caucasus, with Ambassador Ünal Çeviköz, deputy undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, urging third countries including the EU to encourage Armenia to revise its policies with neighbors Turkey and Azerbaijan.

He emphasized that Turkey was keen to normalize ties with Yerevan through a set of confidence-building measures but said they were all unilaterally implemented by Ankara. As an example, he pointed to the rejection by Armenia of the Turkish government's proposal to set up a joint committee of historians to study the allegations of Armenian genocide under the Ottoman Empire.

Asked about last weekend's parliamentary elections in Armenia, Ambassador Çeviköz declined to comment, in apparent reference to Yerevan's refusal to issue visas for Turkish observers, who were tasked with monitoring the elections as part of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) group.

In comments on the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, Azerbaijani territory occupied by Armenians, Çeviköz said the conflict influenced the entire region and that a settlement would certainly contribute to Turkish-Armenian ties.

But when asked if normalization of bilateral ties between Ankara and Yerevan would not contribute to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the ambassador said the problems with Armenia were not limited to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

“We look at the issues from both bilateral and multilateral perspectives. They are all inter-dependent. You cannot separate one issue from another. The problem of Nagorno-Karabakh is not the only problem with Armenia,” he added.

The border gate between Turkey and Armenia has been closed for more than a decade. Turkey closed the gate and severed diplomatic relations with Armenia after Armenian troops occupied Nagorno-Karabakh. Ankara now says normalization of ties depends on Armenian withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as on progress in resolution of a series of bilateral disagreements, including Armenia's discontinuation of support to efforts by the Armenian Diaspora to get international recognition for the alleged genocide.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home