Azerbaijan will not be excluded from Armenian-Turkish settlement process
Ankara believes Azerbaijan is an integral part of a solution to the problem in the Caucasus and says its exclusion from the process is out of the question, the Turkish "Hürriyet Daily News" newspaper reported with reference to the official sources.
With speculation abounding about the Obama administration's alleged quest to neutralize the Azerbaijan factor in the Turkish-Armenian normalization process, Ankara said it is out of the question for Turkey to be involved in any formulation that excludes Baku.
"It is unquestionable for Turkey to leave Azerbaijan out of the cycle in any manner," Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin told the Hürriyet Daily News on Monday.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced last week he would participate in an international nuclear security summit in Washington Apr.12-13, which took him a while to decide after a United States committee passed a resolution labeling the 1915 killings of Armenians as genocide, the paper reported.
But the margins of the summit will see diplomatic traffic between Turkey and Armenia to revive the stalled normalization process. Erdogan is expected to meet with Armenian President Serzh Sagsyan, and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu does not rule out a meeting with members of the Armenian diaspora. Although diplomats say the program is not yet clear, Erdogan may meet with U.S. President Barack Obama for brief talks on the Ankara-Yerevan reconciliation before April 24, a day of commemoration for the 1915 events when U.S. presidents deliver an annual message.
Azerbaijan's absence at the summit, however, is strengthening the argument of Washington's so-called plans to eliminate Azerbaijani pressure on Turkey, so that Ankara could take more progressive steps to normalize ties with Yerevan. Turkish diplomatic sources told the Daily News it is up to the host country, namely the United States in this case, to decide which country to invite to the summit. The diplomats added Azerbaijan's non-participation should not be interpreted as Baku's exclusion.
Heads of state and government from more than 40 countries are expected to attend the summit, the paper wrote.
"We have not announced the full list of participants to the international summit yet," U.S. Embassy spokesperson Deborah Guido-O'Grady told the Daily News when asked if Baku was invited.
She denied the reports over the alleged U.S. plan to exclude Baku from the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement as "incorrect."
"Azerbaijan and the United States work closely on a wide range of issues, including the Minsk process, as well as with other countries in the region including Turkey and Armenia," stated the spokesperson.