Yerevan defends move toward Ankara

Oct. 2, 2009 at 3:16 PM

YEREVAN, Armenia, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said improved relations with Ankara would not harm the greater concerns over genocide or Nagorno-Karabakh.

Turkish relations with Armenia were complicated by claims of genocide during the Ottoman Empire. Recent ties are complicated over disputes regarding the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, an area of dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

War broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s, and the regional fallout from that row remains tense despite a 1994 cease-fire.

Sargsyan said normalizing relations with Ankara would not prevent the international recognition of genocide or force Yerevan to back off its claims on Nagorno-Karabakh, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

He told a presidential panel that "no sensible Armenian can forget the genocide," adding Ankara would not control any negotiations.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her meetings on Nagorno-Karabakh expressed her "strong support" for a resolution, saying the dispute negotiating process should move forward without preconditions.

Ankara said in April it would open its borders with Armenia in time for a qualifying match between both national teams for the World Cup scheduled for October.

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