Turkish FM says Armenia relations can be normalised in 2009
Relations between Armenia and Turkey as well as Azerbaijan and Armenia could be normalised this year.
Relations between Armenia and Turkey as well as Azerbaijan and Armenia could be normalised this year, state-run news agency Anatolian on Saturday reported Turkey's Foreign Minister Ali Babacan as saying.
"I can easily say we have never come this close to a plan regarding the final normalisation of relations with Armenia," said Foreign Minister Babacan in an interview with NTV late on Friday.
The step up in diplomacy comes as Armenia may be eyed as a transit route for energy pipelines shipping oil and gas from the Caspian Sea to Turkey's Mediterranean coast, helping to make Turkey a key energy hub.
"It's not a dream, it's a realistic estimate to see the normalisation of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia as well as Turkey and Armenia," Babacan said.
Turkey closed its border with former Soviet Armenia in 1993 in a show of solidarity with Azerbaijan, a Turkic-speaking ally which was fighting Armenian-backed separatists over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Nagorno-Karabakh's ethnic Armenian population broke away from Azerbaijan in a war as the Soviet Union fell apart.
Turkey showed a willingness to step up diplomatic efforts to normalise relations between Ankara and Baku and Yerevan last year when President Abdullah Gul visited the Armenian capital for a soccer match between Turkey and Armenia.
The countries have also participated in three-way talks on normalising relations.
Relations between the two have been strained by accusations Ottoman Turks committed genocide by killing ethnic Armenians in World War One.
Reuters Last Mod: 18 Ocak 2009, 11:12