ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
Turkey's proposal to create a stability pact in the Caucasus is helping improve Turkish-Armenian ties amid low-profile diplomatic contacts that have commenced between the two neighbors.
As questions linger over the fate of the Turkish-led proposal, due to conflicts between the potential members, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to communicate Turkey's proposal for a Caucasus stability pact with Armenia after a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan, this week.
On another front, the deputy undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Ünal Çeviköz, is expected to hold talks with his Armenian counterparts regarding the Caucasus plan. Çeviköz was one of the Turkish diplomats who held secret talks with Armenian officials in Switzerland.
Turkey has prioritized Armenia's involvement in the regional cooperation mechanism. Diplomatic sources earlier told the Turkish Daily News that it was Armenia that was most negatively affected by the Georgian-Russian war in the region and highlighted the importance of Yerevan joining the platform.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced Wednesday that Babacan would speak to Lavrov this week after which the format of the contacts would be determined. The proposal is expected to be first presented to the Armenian side by the Russian foreign minister.
Meanwhile, Yerevan welcomed the Turkish will to include Armenia in the Caucasus pact. �Armenia was always in favor of dialogue and talks, particularly on the issues concerning cooperation and security in our region,� Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in a written statement released by the Armenian Foreign Ministry.
�The Turkish prime minister's statement on the intention to start talks with Armenia on this agenda could be welcomed,� he noted.
Babacan is expected to hold talks with his Armenian counterpart on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York in September.
Turkey continues practice to ease airspace quota
Ankara's move to relax its airspace quota for Armenia is also considered another positive gesture toward Yerevan, in addition to considerations of aid to civilians.
Turkey decided to loosen its airspace quota for Armenia to allow easier access for humanitarian aid to war-torn Georgia. The most visible aim is to contribute to aid efforts by facilitating the transfer of material via Armenia and to help civilians leave Georgia by using Yerevan as an alternative to Baku, which is already overcrowded.
European countries mostly used Georgian and Russian air space before the war. Charter flights from Istanbul and Trabzon to Yerevan were already available; now all planes flying to and from Yerevan are granted flight permission. The TDN learned that the practice is still ongoing and this liberal air space quota may be kept in place while progress in the betterment of Turkish-Armenian ties gets clearer in the upcoming period.