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17 09 2008 - Back door talks between Turkey, Armenia continue
Back door talks between Turkey, Armenia continue
The behind the scenes diplomacy between Ankara and Yerevan, which set the ground for President Abdullah Gul's landmark visit to Armenia, continues this week in Switzerland with its third round between the two countries' top diplomats, the Turkish Daily News (TDN) reported on Wednesday.

Back door talks between Turkey, Armenia continue

Diplomats will try to finalize a draft for the common declaration of good will in the wake of a tripartite summit between Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan to take place in New York at the end of September, the report said.

Undersecretary of the foreign ministry, Ertugrul Apakan, and his deputy, Unal Cevikoz, headed for Switzerland on Sunday to meet their counterparts in Bern, which already hosted two rounds of talks in May and July, it added.

The positive atmosphere flourished after the first-ever meeting of Gul and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan on the margins of the football match on Sept. 6 which paved the way for a more comprehensive discussion on substantial issues.

Diplomats will try to reach a compromise on a common language for reflection upon the developments fortified with Gul's visit and the football match between the two national teams.

Turkey is among the first countries that recognized Armenia when it declared its independency in the early 1990s. However there is no diplomatic relations between two countries, as Armenia presses the international community to admit the so-called "genocide" claims instead of accepting Turkey's call to investigate the allegations, and its invasion of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory despite U.N. Security Council resolutions on the issue.

Armenia, with the backing of the diaspora, claims up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings in 1915. Turkey rejects the claims, saying that 300,000 Armenians along with at least as many Turks died in civil strife that emerged when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia.

In 2005, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan took a first step towards resolving the issue by proposing that a joint commission of historians launch an investigation and publish their conclusions, but the proposal was rejected by Yerevan.


The declaration is to be announced at the meeting of Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and his Armenian counterpart, Edward Nalbandian, which is expected to the take place during the U.N General Assembly in New York being held Sept.23 to Oct.1.

Diplomatic sources told the TDN Armenia now moves closer to giving a green light for a joint committee of historians to study the events of 1915, a long-standing Turkish proposal categorically rejected by the former Armenian President Robert Kocharian.

Considering the need to establish a mechanism for verification of documents in archives, together with choosing the members, preparations are expected to take at least one year which gives Turkey time on international platforms.

Participation of experts from third-party countries and a representative from an international institution are also under discussion.

“Official announcement for the establishment of a committee would ease Turkey's position, culminating in alleged genocide resolutions in many countries,” a senior Turkish official told the TDN, referring to initiatives in countries including the U.S., Canada, France and Argentina.

Combined efforts are underway for setting up other committees to work on economic and cultural affairs to accelerate the normalization of relations.

Armenian expectations for the opening of the sealed border between the two countries loomed large especially after the outbreak of crisis in Georgia, which has been the major gateway for Western markets from Armenia. However, Ankara waits for simultaneous steps on other fronts in order to further proceed with the opening of the border.
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