Introduction and Translation from Turkish by Ara Arabyan
WASHINGTON (A.W.)—The semi-official Anatolia Agency this week reported the comments made by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu about his and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s meetings with Armenian President Serge Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian during the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington from April 11-12. Davutoglu made the comments on April 15 during a press conference in the Turkish Embassy in Washington. The Turkish minister also discussed other important issues, such as Iran’s nuclear program and events in Kyrgyzstan, during the press conference.
The report highlighted three main issues:
—Davutoglu plans to fly to Azerbaijan immediately after his visit to Brazil to consult with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev about the outcome of his talks with Armenian, U.S., and Russian officials. “We will have a detailed discussion with Aliyev about the talks we have had here. We will consult on the steps we will take from this point on.” He lamented the absence of Azerbaijan at the Washington summit as a serious “deficiency.”
These two comments suggest substantive talks were held in Washington.
—Davutoglu expressed “political resolve” with regard to the protocols with Armenia, but emphasizes the link of the Karabagh issue to the agreements and effectively denies that the protocols may be approved by the Turkish National Assembly before April 24.
The comment suggests no breakthrough in the talks.
—Davutoglu commented on the effort to “reach out” to the “Ottoman diaspora”—a term suggested by a journalist—through Turkish Embassies and activities “in every state in the United States.”
This subject was brought up earlier, but this comment provides more depth to what was reported in the press.
Below are excerpts of the report related to Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“Stating that he plans to have a detailed discussion with Azerbaijan about his talks in the United States, Davutoglu said, ‘[During our visit to Iran], we plan to share with Iran the talks we have had here, especially with the U.S. administration, and the impressions we have gathered.’”
“Speaking at a press conference at the Turkish Embassy following his talks, Davutoglu said he had numerous meetings within the framework of the Nuclear Security Summit, which he attended together with Erdogan at the invitation of U.S. President Barack Obama. Davutoglu noted that Erdogan had articulated Turkey’s views to summit participants and had meetings with Obama during the two days he was here. He added that major issues that concern [Turkey and the United States] as well developments in the Caucasus, the normalization process with Armenia, Iran, and regional developments were discussed at the meeting.”
“Davutoglu also disclosed that Erdogan discussed with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev developments in the Caucasus and the Middle East as well as the recent events in Kyrgyzstan.”
“Davutoglu said, ‘Our prime minister got together with [Brazilian President Luiz Inacio] Lula, and I met with Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim. Naturally, the most important of these meetings was the one between our prime minister and Sarkisian. In addition to these meetings by our prime minister, I had separate talks with the foreign ministers of all these countries.’”
Meeting with Clinton
Davutoglu said he discussed three issues during his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “The first topic was the normalization process with Armenia and developments in the Caucasus,” he said. “At this time—in recent consultations we have had with the United States—we view the developments with a shared perspective. We are determined to continue the normalization process. We expressed our resolve on this issue to both Obama and Sarkisian, as well as Nalbandian and Clinton, with whom I had separate talks. This is Turkey’s sincere position. Preserving the validity of the protocols, which were signed after a very long and truly laborious process, and normalizing relations with Armenia as envisaged by these protocols, are very important for us.”
“However, we attach equal importance to the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict,” he continued. “We want all these processes to lead to the establishment of lasting stability and peace in the Caucasus. I am pleased to say that the United States and Obama also view the issues from this perspective. Our prime minister’s meeting with Medvedev also proceeded with the same perspective.”
“Consequently, I think that there is a steadily growing momentum toward the establishment of peace and stability in the south Caucasus—there is a greater impetus to turn the south Caucasus into a zone of prosperity.”
Davutoglu said that one of the most important outcomes of the summit was the intensification of work on this issue.
When reminded about Sarkisian’s comments about Karabakh, Davutoglu said, “We were not asked to serve as a mediator between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Consequently, it would not be right to conclude that Turkey’s involvement is not desired. However, regardless of whether there is a normalization process, Turkey is one of the most important countries of the south Caucasus. Consequently, we have always had an interest in this issue. We will continue to have an interest in the future. What matters more in these processes is taking steps that can contribute to peace and stability with good will and political resolve. Regardless of who says what, we are determined on this issue.”
In response to a question on whether “Armenia has given any assurances that it will withdraw from some rayons of Karabakh,” Davutoglu said that all issues were discussed with different sides and on different occasions, but that no such assurances were given.
Answering a question on the absence of Azerbaijan at the summit, Davutoglu said, “Azerbaijan’s absence here was a big deficiency. In the last two weeks, we brought up this issue with the United States at every level and we said that the participation of Azerbaijan is essential. We did everything we could, but ultimately this is the decision of the United States as the host of the summit. Nevertheless, they explained what they consider the objective reason for this decision.”
“Naturally, the presence of Turkey, Armenia, and the co-chairs of the Minsk Group was a very important opportunity. If Aliyev was also here, I think that the positive talks we have had till now would have gained much greater impetus. An important opportunity has been missed. I say this with candor and sincerely.”
Davutoglu recalled that, before he came to the United States, Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu went to Baku as the special representative of Erdogan and elicited Aliyev’s most basic positions, concerns, and views on the issue. “However, naturally, where there is a Turk there is an Azeri and where there is an Azeri there is a Turk,” Davutoglu said.
Davutoglu will “go to Azerbaijan without spending any time even with his family” after his talks in Brazil. “In other words,” he said, “we will not waste even a single day. In that sense, our contacts with Azerbaijan are very intensive. Azerbaijan does not have any problems in terms of its representation.”
Answering a question on the protocols, Davutoglu said that it is important that the climate is ready in Turkey, Armenia, and the region in terms of political psychology.
When told about rumors that the protocols might be approved by the Turkish Grand National Assembly before April 24, Davutoglu said, “Pay attention to what we are saying, not to rumors.”
Answering another question, Davutoglu said that it is natural to discuss the normalization process with Armenia in a platform that includes Turkey, Armenia, the United States, France, and Russia. When asked whether Turkey’s overture to all groups in the United States is “an overture targeted at the “Ottoman diaspora,” Davutoglu replied that he has met and will meet with Turkish ambassadors not only in the United States, but also Europe, Latin America, and other regions.
He continued, “What we underscore in all these meetings…is the following: Increase your communications with all groups and communities that have some form of cultural proximity to Turkey, that support Turkey, or that have contacts with Turkey. Turkey’s promotion cannot occur only through political activities; it also requires cultural and economic activities. Consequently, our ambassadors are always active on these issues and will step up their activities in the future. This is what we mean. However, this should not be viewed as only the ‘Ottoman diaspora.’”
“This morning, I was with some academics from Pakistan. Pakistan is one of Turkey’s closest friends. We must reach out to them also. We have to build channels through which we can reach out to everyone and describe our country, our history, and our experience to everyone. We will increase our means and capacity in this area, and we will undertake activities in every state of the United States to reach out to every group.”