Turkish President: Nagorno-Karabakh problem - main obstacle to achieve favorable climate in South Caucasus
The South Caucasus's special importance as a region, neighboring with Turkey and Russia, is obvious, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said in an interview with "MK" and information portal "MK-Turkey" on the eve of his visit to Russia.
"Guided by a strategy aimed at creating atmosphere of peace, stability and prosperity in the near region, we are striving to achieve peace, security and cooperation also in this region," Gul said.
He said the Nagorno-Karabakh problem is currently the main obstacle to achieve such a favorable climate in the South Caucasus.
"I believe that Turkey's view on this issue coincides with the Russian Federation's viewpoint. Progress that can be achieved in resolving the Karabakh conflict, from this point of view, will have decisive importance," Gul said.
In this regard, President Gul once again stressed that Turkey is ready to fully support seeking the problem resolution, in which the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is personally involved, as well as do all necessary for further resolution of the conflict.
According to Gul, progress achieved in this direction will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the Turkish-Armenian relations. This is Turkey's position on normalization of relations with Armenia, he said.
"We sincerely wish successful completion of the normalization process. In the process of formation of a stable peace in the South Caucasus and establishment of cooperation and prosperity in the region's countries and beyond it, the normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia and between Armenia and Turkey should not be perceived as a separate process, it should be considered on region-wide basis," Gul underlined.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions.