ANKARA (Combined Sources)–Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday Turkey will keep its border with Armenia closed if the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains unresolved.
Erdogan was quoted Monday by the Anatolia news agency as saying that “if the occupation of (Nagorno Karabakh) continues, we will not take such a step.”
He made his remarks during a press conference where he sought to update the media on his recent trip to Washington DC for US President Obama’s Nuclear Summit. Erdogan met with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian on the sidelines of the trip for talks centered on their countries’ stalled diplomatic rapprochement.
The reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border is part of a US-brokered accord the two countries signed in October to establish diplomatic ties and needs parliamentary ratification to take effect.
In discussing his talks with Sarkisian, Erdogan said: “I think if the Karabakh issue is solved, there will be no problems in opening the Turkish-Armenian border. Therefore, the Minsk Group should step up its work. I discussed the issue with the presidents of the United States and Russia, Obama and Medvedev, in Washington, as well as with President Sarkozy during my recent visit to Paris. But despite this, they have been unable to achieve results for 20 years now.”
Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in a show of solidarity with Azerbaijan after the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic declared its independence from Soviet Azerbaijan.
Erdogan also criticized Washington for not inviting Azerbaijan to the Nuclear Security Summit held from April 12-13. “I told the American administration openly that had Azerbaijan been among the participants, we could have held meetings with six states, including the co-chairs of the Minsk Group. That is, we would have had more active meetings on all these issues.”