ISTANBUL (Noyan Tapan)–The Turkish "Milliyet" newspaper ran in its Thursday issue an interview with Armenian President Robert Kocharian conducted by "Milliyet" editor-in-chief Kyuneri Civaoghlu. Prior to the interview–Civaoghlu marveled at the architectural magnificence of the presidential palace built entirely of douf. He regretted that for security purposes–he was not allowed to photograph the structure.
Kocharian told Civaoghlu that he did not understand how seven years ago Armenia-Turkey relations were deemed "good" when recognition of Armenia’s independence does not alone constitute relations. He explained that the countries have neither formal diplomatic nor official trade relations. "Turkey has closed its doors to Armenia," he said.
"I believe our relations need to develop without preconditions. However–that does not mean that issues concerning Armenia and Turkey–such as the Armenian Genocide–should not be on the agenda," Kocharian stated.
"If there is an issue to be discussed–let us discuss it. We have a history. However–Turkey and Armenia have different views of that history. We regard the incidents as Genocide–and Turkey views them differently. The complex psyche with which we have lived for many years stems from these differing viewpoints," Kocharian pointed out.
The Armenian president continued–"I wish to say that if we sit at a table together–we might be able to convince Turkey. And maybe…Turkey can convince us. This way we can understand and establish dialogue. Perhaps…Turkey and Armenia will become allies. I don’t hold that issue as a precondition. Our relations should develop in a natural fashion."
Regarding diplomatic relations–Kocharian stated–"Turkey presents us with preconditions. In order for Turkey to open its borders–lift the blockade and establish diplomatic relations–it holds as a precondition that Karabakh be submitted to Azerbaijan. The Karabakh war was initiated by Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan lost that war. It is similar to the Cyprus issue."
"As this country’s leader–I exercise real politics. I do not speak about impossible things," Kocharian said about Armenian land claims based on the Serves Treaty.
In conclusion–the "Milliyet" editor-in-chief observed that Kocharian did not give him the impression of a militant and strict person as was suggested by Turkish media. "No one can choose his neighbor. Eternal enemies or allies do not exist in history. Only state and national interests exist," Civaoghlu said.