ANKARA (Hurriyet)–The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict continues to be a top priority for Turkish diplomacy, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Monday in response to complaints from Azerbaijan that Ankara was not upholding Baku’s interests in talks with Armenia.
“Even if the sky falls, Turkey will not change its position,” Davutoglu told reporters on Monday after his talks with Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout. The comments come a week after Turkey and Armenia signed US-brokered accords to normalize relations and open borders.
The Turkish foreign minister’s remarks reaffirm Ankara’s intention to continue pushing for resolution of the Karabakh conflict favoring Azerbaijan through its negotiations with Armenia. This despite repeated statements by the Obama Administration that negotiations should continue without preconditions.
Davutoglu also commented on the recent soccer match between Armenia and Turkey’s national teams held in the Turkish city of Bursa. Azerbaijan had reacted to a Turkish move to ban Azeri flags at the soccer game by removing all Turkish flags on Martyrs’ Lane in Baku.
“Our flag, which the shadows of our martyrs rest under, has been entrusted to Azerbaijan’s greatness and honor,” Davutoglu said. “I hope they will act in accordance with this. I was told that the flags were taken down due to restoration and would be hung again soon.”
“Both Azerbaijani and Turkish flags belong to the same nation and are deemed to hold the same degree of importance for Turkish officials as well as 72 million citizens,” Davutoglu said.
Underscoring Ankara’s intention to keep the Karabakh conflict a top priority in its diplomatic agenda, Davutoglu said President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently highlighted the Karabakh conflict in U.N. talks, as well as during meetings with officials from the Obama administration.
“There is no doubt that our Azerbaijani brothers will give the best response to those sowing discord. For all they may say, Turkey will continue its efforts until a solution is reached. There is no change in policy or attitude,” he said.
Davutoglu’s remarks also follow threats by Azeri President Ilham Aliyev over the weekend to derail Turkey’s plans to become a hub for Caspian and Central Asian energy by seeking alternative gas routes that bypass Turkey.
“The negotiations were underway between the Nabucco consortium and Azerbaijani officials. The Caspian- Anatolia transport route is strategically important for all of us,” Aliyev said.
Davutoglu tried to allay Azeri fears that Turkey’s Parliament would ratify the Armenian agreements before the Karabakh conflict is resolved. He confirmed that the protocols for establishing relations with Armenia and Turkey are to be submitted to the Turkish parliament on Oct 21 but noted that “Submission and ratification are two different things.”