GeriGündem Foreign minister says Turkey wants to normalize relations with Armenia
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Foreign minister says Turkey wants to normalize relations with Armenia

Foreign  minister says Turkey wants to normalize relations with Armenia
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Turkey is willing to normalize its relations with the neighboring Armenia, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said late on Thursday.

Turkey wanted to create an atmosphere of dialogue with Armenia, Babacan told a press conference in New York. 

"Turkish president, prime minister and foreign minister sent letters to their Armenian counterparts after recent elections in Armenia, and these letters aimed to open a new door of dialogue with the new (Armenian) administration," he was quoted as saying by the Anatolian Agency.

As a signal of efforts to revive relations between the two countries, Turkish and Armenian officials held a series of secret meetings in the capital of Switzerland on July 8. This meeting Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan's proposal for "a fresh start" with the goal of normalizing relations with Turkey and opening the border.

Sargsyan also invited Turkish President Abdullah Gul to watch a football match between the two country's national teams on Sept 6 to mark "a new symbolic start in the two countries' relations". Turkey has been evaluating this invitation.

Although Turkey is among the first countries that recognized Armenia when it declared its independency, 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.

The foreign minister said that Turkey's aim was to have zero problems with its neighbors. "Naturally, we are also expecting some concrete steps from the other party," he said.

 

JOINT COMMISSION ON "GENOCIDE" CLAIMS

Babacan said he believed that Turkey's problems could be solved through dialogue, and underlined importance of setting up a joint committee of historians to deal with the incidents of 1915.

In 2005, Turkey officially proposed to the Armenian government the establishment of a joint historical commission composed of historians and other experts from both sides to study together the events of 1915, and to open the archives of Turkey and Armenia, as well as the archives of all relevant third-party countries and share their findings publicly.

Sargsyan gave the green light recently to Turkey's proposal to establish a joint commission to investigate the so-called "genocide" claims, saying this step should be preceded by the normalization of relations. Yerevan had long been hesitant to agree to the proposal.

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 the Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia.

 

TURKEY LOBBIES FOR COUNCIL MEMBERSHIP

He is actually in New York City to lobby for Turkey's candidacy for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council.

Turkey would work hard till the last minute to secure a non-permanent seat at the Security Council, Babacan told at the conference, adding there was a lot of hope for Turkey to attain a non-permanent seat at the Council.

"However, it is important to work hard till the last minute to secure a non-permanent seat," Babacan said.

"It is likely that the election for the non-permanent seat at the U.N. Security Council would take place in October 2008. We would attend the U.N. General Assembly meetings in September with Turkish President Abdullah Gul. Both President Gul and I would have many bilateral talks. We would continue lobbying for Turkey's non-permanent membership in the U.N. Security Council," Babacan said.

The U.N. Security Council is composed of five permanent members - China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, and ten non-permanent members. Turkey competes with Austria and Iceland for the term of 2009-2010.

Ten non-permanent members are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms and are not eligible for immediate re-election. Turkey held a seat in the Security Council in 1951-52, 1954-55 and 1961.

Turkey would need the votes of 128 countries out of a total of 192 countries in order to be elected as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.

Babacan also said he saw the appointment of Alexander Downer, Australia's former foreign minister as the new U.N. special representative for Cyprus, as an important signal that the organization would more closely and seriously deal with the Cyprus problem.

"The U.N. should intervene in settlement of Cyprus problem," he also said. He added Turkey wished wish that comprehensive talks would be launched in Cyprus soon.

 

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