LONDON–Turkish Deputy Premier Bulent Ecevit reiterated his country’s position on Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh recently in an interview with Balqis Kilckaya–a correspondent with the London-based Arabic language political weekly–Al-Wasat–stating that Turkey wanted "to develop relations with Armenia," but that Armenia needed "to develop her relations with Turkey."
Ecevit alleged–however–that Armenia was still occupying–in addition to Nagorno Karabakh–a large portion of Azeri territory–and therefore had to "end this occupation and reach a peaceful settlement with regards to the Karabakh problem."
Ecevit went on to say that he had proposed a solution to the problem–and that the world had begun to show interest in it. Ecevit said there was an Armenian majority in some regions of Karabakh–but that Armenian lands had been inserted between Nakhichevan and Azerbaijan–and these lands previously belonged to Azerbaijan.
However–when these lands were annexed to Armenia during Stalin’s rule–Azerbaijan was forced to distance itself from independent Nakhichevan–which is subordinate to it. This situation makes it difficult to establish communications between Turkey–the Caucasus and Central Asia. This is why those parts of Nagorno Karabakh that have an Armenian majority should be united with Armenia in return for the annexation of the territory between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan to Azerbaijan.
Ecevit was also asked about the alleged sale of weapons by Russia to Armenia–Southern Cyprus–Syria and Iran– and commented that Turkey was concerned with these possible developmen’s.
"In the Soviet period–the Russia’s did not pursue a foreign policy based on racial and religious cleavages because the Communist ideology prohibits that," Ecevit said. "However–after the disintegration of the Soviet Union–this ideological barrier was removed–and the Russian Federation openly pursues today a racial Slavic and Orthodox policy. We saw that in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Russia is trying to surround Turkey with an Orthodox league–beginning in Bosnia and extending to the Balkans via Greece and the north of the Black Sea–then to the Caucasus and until Southern Cyprus.
"Moreover–there are the Russian mafia–the off-shore banks and newspapers. When the Russian missiles reach Cyprus–she will also assemble her military forces on the pretext of training. This is the first time that Russia is taking tangible steps toward possessing the population around the Mediterranean Sea–while Western Europe remains in the position of a bystander towards these developmen’s. Although America is not making her position towards this situation publicly clear–I believe that it is worried."
On Turkey’s recent signing of a natural gas agreement with Russia resulting in criticism at home to the effect that Turkey granted Russia the gas card–Ecevit defended the signing–saying critics did not know the whole story.
"The view saying that we put our need for gas at Russia’s disposal is not correct–because we buy gas from other sources as well. The establishment of good relations between Russia and Turkey is to the advantage of both countries from both the security and economic points of view–and we had developed our relations to a great extent in the seventies.
"On the one hand–we tell Russia about our fears–and–on the other hand–we develop our relations to show our goodwill. As new government–we also wish to show our goodwill to the Arab countries. However–the Arab countries do differ a lot from one another. This why a single call may not be appropriate for them all. In reality–there are no real problems between Turkey and any Arab state except Syria–and there are no problems with Syria that cannot be solved. However–Syria should give up her unrealizable dreams about the territories
Excerpts translated from Arabic by Ara Sanjian