United States, Washington, June 13 / Trend , N.Bogdanova / Turkish foreign minister says progress must be reached in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to normalize situation in the South Caucasus.
"There is a need for progress and development in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to normalize situation in the region. All sides must work in this direction," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmad Davudoglu said in an exclusive interview with Trend .
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan lost all of Nagorno-Karabakh except for Shusha and Khojali in December 1991. In 1992-93, Armenian armed forces occupied Shusha, Khojali and 7 districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations. OSCE also holds regular monitoring on contact line of troops to ensure ceasefire.
"We want to further normalize bilateral ties as a part of our good neighbor policy," Davudoglu said.
The minister said the Turkey-Armenia bilateral ties are not only limited with the South Caucasus, but they impact Turkey-U.S. relations. "This is not right. Our relations with Armenia must not influence our relations with the U.S.," he said.
The Armenian-Turkish ties have been severed since 1993 due to Armenia's claims of an alleged genocide and the country's occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijani lands.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul visited Yerevan on Sept. 6, 2008 upon the invitation of his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan to watch an Armenia-Turkey football match.
Efforts have been made to normalize ties between the two countries ever since.
Representatives of Turkish opposition accuse authorities of intentions to open borders with Armenia under Washington's pressure. Azerbaijan is concerned about it. However, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a visit to Baku on May 12-13 that Turkey will not cooperate with Armenia until Azerbaijan's occupied lands are liberated.
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