Turkey, Armenia confirm signing deadline

Turkey expects historic accords to normalise ties with Armenia to be signed in Switzerland, senior Turkish government sources said.

Turkey, Armenia confirm signing deadline

Turkey expects historic accords to normalise ties with Armenia to be signed on Saturday in Switzerland, senior Turkish government sources said on Wednesday.

"There are no changes to those plans," a senior Turkish government source, referring to the planned signature of protocols in Zurich on Oct. 10, told Reuters. Another government source, who also declined to be named, agreed.

Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Arman Kirakossian told Reuters that a decision had not yet been taken on when and where the protocols would be signed but acknowledged they needed to happen shortly as an agreed deadline was approaching.

"The signing ceremony is very important because Armenia has always stated its desire to establish relations without preconditions. And I hope that these protocols will be signed very soon," Kirakossian told Reuters in Yerevan.

Turkey and Armenia agreed on Aug. 31 to sign, within six weeks, two protocols on the establishment of diplomatic ties.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan announced in New York that the agreements would be signed on Oct. 10.

Turkish Foreign Ministry officials later told reporters each country's foreign minister would attend the ceremony in Zurich.

But doubts have emerged in diplomatic circles about whether the ceremony would take place because of pressure from the powerful Armenian diaspora, as well as opposition within Armenia and to a certain extent Turkey.

Once the protocols are signed they must be approved by the respective parliaments. This leaves open the possibility that either side delays the approval in case they face unexpected domestic opposition.

Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan, has also said ties with Armenia cannot be normalised until there is progress on Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia insists the two issues are separate.

Ethnic Armenian forces, backed by Armenia, fought a war with Azerbaijan in the early 1990s over the mountainous territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, killing some 30,000 people.

International mediators are trying to put pressure on Armenia to negotiate with Azerbaijan over Karabakh as part of a wider attempt to secure a lasting peace in the region.

Reuters
Last Mod: 08 Ekim 2009, 12:33
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