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Turkish President Says Ankara 'Making A Move' In Caucasus

  • RFE/RL

ANKARA -- In an interview with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said that Turkey is "making a move" in the Caucasus and that his recent trip to Yerevan will "serve stability in the region."

On September 6, Gul made a historic trip to Armenia at the invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian. The two leaders watched an international soccer match between their national teams and held an extended closed-door session.

Armenia and Turkey are divided by the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey during and immediately after World War I, which Armenians call a genocide.

They are also at odds over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic-Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, which Turkey accuses Armenia of occupying.

Gul told RFE/RL that he reaffirmed his support for the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia, but said that the Minsk Group, a body created by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to foster a peaceful resolution of the conflict, has "failed to achieve important results."

"Now, in the Caucasus, the stones have been moved and we are also making an effort and we are making our move. If the move brings results then we will all be happy," Gul said.

Caucasus Initiative

Turkey has recently boosted its regional profile, preaching a message of stability in the Caucasus. President Gul has announced plans to create a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Pact that would include the three South Caucasus countries plus two regional heavyweights, Turkey and Russia.

In the interview, Gul emphasized how Nagorno-Karabakh is not just a bilateral issue between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but affects the whole region.

"Peace and stability is in the interest of everyone and to have that we have to resolve problems. But to resolve the problems we have to have discussion and dialogue," Gul said.

Gul also said that if there is peace and stability in the Caucasus, then all issues related to energy could be resolved automatically.

He reaffirmed his support for the Western-backed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, the flow of which was disrupted by last month's war between Russia and Georgia.

But he also said that Turkey has plans to "bring Russian gas through Turkish territory to the world market." "There will be a time when the current existing routes are not enough," he said.

Gul will be in Baku for talks on September 10.
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