BAKU—Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that President Serzh Sarkisian must apologize for what the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman characterized as “calling on school children to occupy eastern Turkey.”
While speaking to participants of the fifth All Armenian Olympiad of Armenian language and literature on Saturday, Sarkisian was asked whether Western Armenia, with Mount Ararat, will ever be united with Armenia, to which the president responded, “everything depends on the young generation.”
Speaking at a joint news conference with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Erdogan called Sarkisian’s statement a “historical mistake” that should be corrected, reported Today’s Zaman.
In his remarks, Sarkisian also said that “the current generation defended and liberated a part of Armenian land. If the future generation makes much effort then Armenia will be one of the best states in the world,” said Sarkisian.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Tuesday also strongly condemned Sarkisian’s remarks, calling the statement “very irresponsible behavior.”
According to Today’s Zaman, Erdogan said Sarkisian’s behavior is a provocation and an attempt to fill youth with hatred, which he said will lead Armenia’s youth into “darkness.”
“There cannot be such diplomacy. Sarkisian has made a very serious mistake … he must apologize,” Erdoğan added.
Erdogan also said Armenia was not displaying a constructive role in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks, saying Azerbaijan is working for peace and displaying a positive attitude in peace talks.
In his turn, Aliyev also slammed Sarkisian’s remarks and said Armenians should wake up “from a dream into real life.” He said Nagorno-Karabakh is an Azerbaijani territory and that Sarkisian’s words that they will occupy, what he called, “historical Turkish lands” only show their occupation mentality, adding that it seems as if Armenia thinks they have already settled the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.
“Azerbaijan will get back their territories, either through peace or military means,” Aliyev said.
Aliyev was more cautious however, when asked if Azerbaijan would recognize “Northern Cyprus” in the event that talks to settle the Cyprus issue failed. Aliyev said this is not an easy task. “There is also a Nagorno-Karabakh problem. I hope this conflict will be solved one day,” Aliyev said, referring to vulnerability of his country in recognizing Turkish Cyprus due to pressure from the European Union.
While visiting Turkey in 2004, Aliyev said Azerbaijan would consider recognizing “N. Cyprus” if Greek Cypriots rejected a UN plan to reunify the island. Reportedly, the EU pressured Azerbaijan to not recognize the “Northern Cyprus” and threatened to recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.