ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)—Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday launched a round of talks aimed at winning the opposition’s support for the government’s plans to normalize relations with Armenia by opening the mutual border and restoring diplomatic ties.
Davutoglu met with Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Sahin. Opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal, skeptical of the rapprochement process with Armenia, accepted a request from Davutoglu to meet to discuss the planned steps. The two will meet next Tuesday.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), a strong critic of the plans to restore relations with Armenia, however, rejected Davutoglu’s request for meeting.
Foreign Ministry sources expect that Davutoglu’s consultations with political parties will be wrapped up by end of the month. “If everything goes as planned and if mutual steps are taken, the borders could be opened around New Year,” Davutoglu said in an interview earlier this month.
“Irrespective of what measure we may take in foreign policy, the source of legitimacy for all steps of the government is the Parliament. This is what I told the Parliament speaker today,” Davutoglu said after talks with Sahin. He said he had requested meetings with leaders of all parties that won at least 1 percent of the national vote in the last general election.
“We hope to finish those meetings as soon as possible before Parliament returns from its recess,” he told reporters.
But the opposition is skeptical, saying a possible move to reopen the border without Armenian concessions on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution would be detrimental to Turkey’s national interests.
The opposition also wants Armenia to drop the Armenian Genocide issue.
Asked whether he requested a special session in Parliament to discuss the rapprochement process, Davutoglu said he did not, emphasizing that it was up to Parliament whether to request such a session.