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Retired Turkish General Sees Continued Linkage Of Karabakh To Armenian Ties

PRAGUE -- A retired Turkish general says Ankara will continue to link the normalization of its relations with Armenia to a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Sadi Erguvenc, who has been involved with previous reconciliation initiatives between Yerevan and Ankara, told RFE/RL the chances are slim that the Turkish-Armenian normalization protocols will be implented at the moment.

Turkish leaders have repeatedly stated that their parliament will not ratify the protocols until there is a breakthrough in the long-running Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks over the disputed region.

Erguvenc said Turkey views Azerbaijan as a country "occupied to a considerable extent," and so the Turks "feel committed to support them" in their Karabakh efforts.

"It may not look rational from the Armenian point of view, but Turkey values highly its relations with Azerbaijan," he said.

Erguvenc added that he does not think the Karabakh linkage can be dropped by Ankara in the near future because that policy enjoys strong public support in Turkey.

Erguvenc spoke to RFE/RL on Thursday (March 25) on the sidelines of a Turkish-Armenian seminar held in Yerevan by the Eurasia Partnership Foundation in cooperation with the Global Political Trends Center, an Istanbul-based think tank.

The two-day event brought together former government officials and prominent media figures from the two countries.