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    Azerbaijan warns Turkey-Armenia on process

    Hurriyet Daily News with wires
    23 Nisan 2009 - 11:40Son Güncelleme : 23 Nisan 2009 - 15:21

    ISTANBUL - Azerbaijan warned Turkey and Armenia on Thursday that they should only normalise their relations if Armenian troops are withdrawn at the same time from a disputed enclave inside Azerbaijan. (UPDATED)

    Turkey and Armenia announced late on Wednesday that they had agreed a framework for normalising their relations, the first such move since Turkey closed its border to Armenia in 1993.

    "It is the sovereign right of every country to define its relations with other countries," Elkhan Polukhov, an Azeri Foreign Ministry spokesman, was quoted as saying by Azeri news website Day.az.

    "Nevertheless, Azerbaijan considers that the normalisation of Turkish-Armenian relations must proceed in parallel with the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied lands of Azerbaijan."

    Opening the border could lead to tensions in the region and would be contradictory to the interests of Azerbaijan, Reuters also reported Polukhov as saying.


    The agency also added that Polukhov said it was "too early" to discuss what steps Azerbaijan might take in retaliation.

    Asked whether Turkey informed Azerbaijan about the negotiations with Armenia, Polukhov said the parties were exchanging information on the process.

    Turkey shut its frontier with Armenia in solidarity with Azerbaijan after over Armenia's invasion of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory Nagorno-Karabakh.

    Azerbaijan, a supplier of oil and gas to the West, concerns losing leverage over Armenia in the dispute if Turkey reopens the border with Armenia and restores full diplomatic relations.

    According to media reports officials have hinted that Azerbaijan would consider cutting gas supplies to Turkey if Ankara ignored the Karabakh issue in its talks with Armenia.

    Azerbaijan defense minister is due in Turkey on Friday,  Turkish broadcaster NTV reported.




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