ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)–Standing alongside his Azerbaijani counterpart during a joint press conference in Ankara Wednesday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul proclaimed that a new era for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has begun.
Gul’s remarks came at a joint press conference with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who arrived in the Turkish capital Tuesday only days after a landmark meeting in Moscow, where he discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarkisian. This is Aliyev’s first visit after being re-elected for a second term on Oct. 15.
“We have courageously started dealing with problems of the Caucasus. Caucasian leaders are displaying the will for resolving these problems on various platforms,” Gul said, while also referring to Turkey’s proposal for a regional platform to discuss and resolve conflicts in the troubled Caucasus after a brief war between Russia and Georgia. With the planned Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform, Ankara ostensibly aims to bring Turkey, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan and Georgia together around the same table. Analysts close to the region, however, see the platform as an attempt by Turkey to drastically increase its influence in the region and skirt the OSCE Minsk Group in the Karabakh negotiations process.
“Caucasus countries, especially Azerbaijan, are lending support to this [proposal]. We believe that an environment to be created with dialogue and mutual understanding will lead to the resolution of problems in the Caucasus. I can state that a new era concerning the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has begun,” Gul said.
After talks outside Moscow with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday, Aliyev and Sarkisian agreed to develop confidence-building measures as they search for a way to resolve the conflict.
Gul voiced support for the Moscow talks and expressed hope that it will be followed by other steps. Aliyev said he backed Turkey’s proposal for the regional platform while underlining that he applauded Turkey’s efforts to bring peace and stability to the region.
The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, released a written statement announcing its satisfaction over the outcome of the Moscow talks between Aliyev and Sarkisian. The ministry said a network of relations based on cooperation and mutual trust within the framework of Turkey’s proposal for a regional platform could serve for confidence building between Armenia and Azerbaijan.