Turkey not to open borders with Armenia: ex-FM
Azerbaijan, Baku, July 8 / Trend , U.Sadikhova/
Turkey will not open borders with Armenian without the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement, Turkish former Foreign Minister Hikmet Chetin said.
"Turkey will never take steps which can damage Azerbaijan," he told journalists at the international conference on the 90th anniversary of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry on July 8.
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.
Turkey puts forward a number of prerequisites to establish bilateral ties, particularly, including Armenia's refusal from the policy of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide and settlement of the Karabakh conflict.
Recently, the Armenian-Turkish contacts have been activated at the official level. 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.
The two neighbor countries' leader met at that time which was called as a "historical event" in Turkey. The visit was called "soccer diplomacy".
In October 2008, the Armenian president paid a return visit to Istanbul. Yerevan and Ankara believe that this visit will contribute to normalization of relations between the two countries.
According to Chetin, Azerbaijan and Turkey are working closely together to preserve the security and stability in the Caucasus.
"We are working against the conflicts and wars for security in the region," he said.
Armenia should understand that it can not dominate in the occupied Azerbaijani territories and it should withdraw all troops and follow the UN resolutions, Chetin said.
The problem of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity is one of difficult ones for the Azerbaijani diplomacy, he added.
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 7 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 the peace negotiations.