Armenia must make peace with Azerbaijan before it can fix its relations with Turkey, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.
In a joint press conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, Erdogan said the disputes in the region could only be solved through solidarity. The press conference was held in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan and Armenia, two former Soviet republics, fought a war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh from 1988 until 1994. The two signed a ceasefire in 1994, but never agreed on a peace settlement. Nagorno-Karabakh, which is in essence independent, remains unrecognized internationally as a separate state.
Turkey maintains that any resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should take into account Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.
Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic relations.
"The solution of all disputes is related to the same core, both regarding a solution between Turkey and Armenia and between Azerbaijan and Armenia," Erdogan said.
"In case of a solution between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the problems between Turkey and Armenia will also be solved, but otherwise, the problems between Turkey and Armenia will continue to stay as they are," he said. "We will continue our solidarity in the coming period with the same decisiveness."
Relations between Turkey and Armenia have been poor due to bitter disagreements over incidents in 1915 which the Armenian diaspora and government describe as "genocide," fueling demands for compensation. Turkey says that, although Armenians died during incidents in 1915, many Turks also died in attacks carried out by Armenian gangs in Anatolia.
Erdogan also said Turkey and Azerbaijan were ready to strengthen their ties. Aliyev expressed satisfaction that one of Erdogan's first foreign visits as president was to Azerbaijan.
"This shows our bilateral relations are of fraternity and friendship, that they are on a great level," said Aliyev.
The Azerbaijani president also criticized Armenia's position on 1915 incidents.
"There is no historical basis of Armenian allegations," he said. "We will reveal Armenian lies together."
South Caucasus Pipeline work begins Sept. 20
A groundbreaking ceremony for the South Caucasus Pipeline, the first phase of the Southern Gas Corridor pipeline, will be held Sept. 20, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.
“Turkey’s energy relations with Azerbaijan and, accordingly, the Trans Anatolia Natural Gas Pipeline project hold utmost importance,” Erdogan told the press after meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, in Baku.
The South Caucasus Pipeline is the first phase of the Southern Gas Corridor, which will carry gas from the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea to Turkey. Then the pipeline is to be connected to the Trans Anatolia Natural Gas Pipeline and reach Europe.
The Trans Anatolia project, also part of the Southern Gas Corridor, is intended to transport natural gas, to be produced in the Shah Sea 2 field and others in Azerbaijan and possibly other neighboring countries, through Turkey to Europe.
Erdogan leaves for NATO summit
After wrapping up talks in Azerbaijan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan left for the Welsh city of Cardiff in the UK on Wednesday, to attend a high-level NATO summit.
The summit will take place as NATO prepares to withdraw its 11-year mission in Afghanistan. World leaders from some 60 countries including U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will also attend to the summit.
Erdogan was decorated with Haydar Aliyev state medal by his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev in Baku before leaving for Cardiff.
Turkish president is scheduled to have a private talk with Obama on the sidelines of the summit.