Turkish Minister Rules out Relations with Armenia over Genocide
Turkish State Minister Abdulhaluk Cay ruled out Friday any normalization of relations with neighboring Armenia, while the latter maintains accusations of an early 20th century genocide which Turkey categorically denies.
"While the country continues to put forward allegations of this type, no dialogue will be possible," Cay, who is responsible for relations with other Turkish-speaking republics in Central Asia, told a press conference.
In addition, he insisted that Armenian forces would have to withdraw from the disputed enclave of Nagorno Karabakh before dialogue could be established.
Turkey has no diplomatic relations with Armenia, and firmly backs its Muslim and Turkish-speaking ally Azerbaijan over the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh.
Nagorno Karabakh is on Azeri territory but has a majority Armenian population. The region declared itself independent in 1991 with the backing of Yerevan, and fought a three-year war to defend its status, in which tens of thousands died.
A fragile ceasefire was declared in 1994.
In addition, Turkey and Armenia are at odds over claims by Yerevan that as many as 1.5 million Armenians died in what it terms genocide during the break-up of the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1917.
Turkey categorically rejects genocide claims and maintains that some 300,000 Armenians and thousands of Turks were killed in civil strife.
US legislation to recognize the event as genocide was withdrawn from Congress last month after intervention by the White House and the State Department.
Armenian President Robert Kocharian said Thursday that the withdrawal of the US Congress bill, and the Turkish stance towards the genocide would not lead to the normalization of relations between Yerevan and Ankara – ANKARA (AFP)
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