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Armenia: Turkey Considering Normal Relations

Ankara, 22 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem says that Turkey will consider normalizing "relations and opening a frontier crossing with Armenia only after the withdrawal of Armenian forces from Azerbaijani districts and the signing of a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

In an interview published in today's "Hurriyet", Cem said he considers "very positive" Armenia's agreement "in principle" to withdraw from Azerbaijani territory. Cem said that Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Heidar Aliyev reached agreement on this point during their talks in Strasbourg earlier this month.

Cem is currently in Kyiv for a meeting of foreign ministers of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation member states, during which he will also hold talks on the Karabakh conflict. Armenia's foreign minister, Alexander Arzoumanian, is also attending the meeting.

Armenia is the only former Soviet republic with which Turkey has not yet established diplomatic relations.