on the silk road

Armenian Apology Causes Brawl in Turkish Parliament

Turkish politicians from the Republican People’s Party and the ruling Ak Party fight during a debate last May in the Turkish parliament in Ankara.

Turkish politicians from the Republican People’s Party and the ruling Ak Party fight during a debate last May in the Turkish parliament in Ankara.

Asbarez.com is reporting that a Turkish parliament member’s request Sunday that the legislature apologize to Armenians for the “events of 1915” has caused an uproar in parliament, with members hurling personal insults at one another.

Democratic Society Party (DTP) member Osman Euzcelik brought the matter up during parliament’s discussion of the education ministry budget and went on to recall the Armenian massacres by using the Kurdish word that describes Genocide.

The remarks prompted a member of the ruling AKP party to walk toward DTP members and begin screaming at his fellow parliamentarians. Another parliament member intervened to stop what could have become a physical altercation.

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US warns Turkey over energy deal with Iran
August 15, 2008, 5:39 am
Filed under: The Silk Road, Turkey | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

From the Financial Times

By Andrew Ward in Washington and Alex Barker in Ankara

The US on Wednesday warned Turkey not to strike an energy deal with Iran that undermined diplomatic efforts to halt Tehran’s nuclear programme, on the eve of a visit to Ankara by Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the Iranian president.

A deal to increase Iranian natural gas supplies to Turkey is expected to form the centrepiece of the visit, giving Mr Ahmadi-Nejad a much-needed diplomatic boost as he attempts to defy pressure to isolate Iran.

The US state department said it expected Ankara to avoid a deal that would harm diplomatic efforts but made clear its opposition to any agreement that eased pressure on Tehran.

“Such a deal by Turkey with Iran would send the wrong message at a time when the Iranian regime has repeatedly failed to comply with its UN Security Council and IAEA obligations,” the state department said.

The meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, marks Mr Ahmadi-Nejad’s first bilateral visit to a Nato member. Mr Erdogan is seeking to strengthen energy ties with Tehran, step up co-operation against Kurdish separatists and intensify Turkey’s efforts to defuse the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme.

The centrepiece of the visit is likely to be progress on an energy initiative that Ankara and Tehran launched last year. That could see a deal signed to increase Iranian natural gas supply and set rates for the transportation of Turkmen gas across Iran.

The US state department said Washington was opposed to any country deepening economic ties with Tehran. “This is not the time to do business with Iran,” it said.

“It is time for the international community, including our ally Turkey, to begin considering additional measures to pressure Iran.”

Ankara and Tehran have good relations, particularly where interests on energy and tackling Kurdish militant groups overlap.

But the standoff over Iran’s nuclear ambitions has tested the relationship. Turkey wants to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon but is concerned about the risk of military confrontation.

“Increased tensions between Iran and the US will put Turkey in a very awkward position,” Ihsan Dagi, professor at Middle Eastern Technical University, said. “After the Iraq war, [Turkey] learned it could no longer remain indifferent to regional developments.”

One western diplomat welcomed Ankara’s “useful” engagement over Iran’s nuclear programme but said Iran “has yet to request that Turkey acts as a formal mediator”.

Turkey, which is reliant on energy imports, is keen to diversify its supplies and establish itself as a hub between Europe and the energy rich nations to its east.

Washington and some EU states have expressed deep concerns over its energy ties to Iran, which pave the way for Iranian and Turkmen gas to be transported to Europe via the planned Nabuko pipeline from eastern Turkey to Austria.

Turkey Walks Tightrope Over Iran Ties

Asbarez reports that a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Turkey on Thursday reflects a desire by the NATO member to remain on good terms with an unpredictable neighbor and secure future energy needs.

President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan have come under criticism at home and abroad for inviting Ahmadinejad, a visit that marks a diplomatic coup for the firebrand leader who has been shunned by European countries.

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Gul Calls For Caucasus Union, Says ‘Essential’ for Peace in Region

Asbarez Reports ANKARA that Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul Tuesday echoed calls by his Prime Minister for the creation of a Caucasian Union, which he said would be essential for preventing the outbreak of future conflicts in the region.

Gul’s remarks come as Georgia is embroiled in an intense conflict with Russia that began after Georgian forces launched a surprise offensive in the breakaway territory of South Ossetia last Friday. The Georgian attack has resulted in the deaths of at least 1,600 people, most of whom were Russian citizens. It also attack triggered a Russian response that culminated in Russian forces seizing several key towns and a military bases deep in western Georgia on Monday.

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Genocide Recognition Still On Armenia Foreign Policy Agenda

YEREVAN–Armenia will continue to seek international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, Armenia’s Foreign Minister said in a press conference on Friday. His statements come despite recent speculations by the US funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that president Serzh Sarkisian is ready to agree to the creation of a highly controversial Turkish-Armenian commission of historians to study the fact.

In what RFE/RL’s Armenia bureau has reported as an apparent policy change, Serzh Sarkisian indicated during a town hall meeting with the Russian Armenian Community this week that he was “not against” the Turkish proposal. But he made clear that the commission of historians can be set up only if Turkey agrees to unconditionally normalize relations with Armenia.

Sarkisian’s statement does not mean that Armenia will no longer work to have the Armenian Genocide recognized by foreign governments and parliaments, Foreign Minister Nalbandian said. 

“The genocide issue remains on our agenda,” he said. 

“Armenia has repeatedly stated and continues to state that we are ready to establish relations with Turkey without any preconditions,” said Nalbandian. “We are also ready to discuss all issues of interest to the two countries after the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of the border.”

In a press conference with journalists Friday, Sarkisian’s spokesman Samvel Farmanian explained that president’s position and policy on Armenian-Turkish relations are known and have not changed. 

He said, however, that Sarkisian is not against any study even of the obvious facts and widely recognized events, but such a study cannot call into question the reality of the facts.” He went on to say that the creation of such commission will make sense only after the Turkey establishes diplomatic relations and drops its blockade. 

Otherwise the entire venture may become another way for Turkey to distort the facts and postpone the normalization of relations, he said, stressing that there should be no closed borders in the 21st century, as they are detrimental to regional security and stability.

The idea of setting up such a commission was floated by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a 2005 letter to then Armenian President Robert Kocharian. Erdogan said its members should jointly determine whether the mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire constituted a genocide.

Kocharian effectively rejected the idea by making a counterproposal to set up a Turkish-Armenian intergovernmental body that would deal with this and other issues of mutual concern.

Turkey cites Yerevan’s policy of Genocide recognition as one of the reasons why it keeps its border with Armenia closed and refuses to establish diplomatic relations with the latter. Ankara stubbornly denies the Genocide, saying that was a civil war and not part of a premeditated government effort to exterminate the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian minority.