Azeri ambassador: "Ankara and baku are of one mind on opening the Turkish-Armenian border"
Azeri Ambassador to Ankara Zakir Hasimov said yesterday that Turkey and Azerbaijan both believe the Turkish-Armenian border should not be opened in the absence of a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Speaking to reporters during a fast-breaking (iftar) dinner in Ankara, Hasimov said that opening the border without a solution to the issue would harm Azeri national interests, adding that his country trusts the assurances of President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey would do nothing that would harm his country's interests and so the border will stay closed until the issue is solved. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Armenia invaded Nagorno-Karabakh, an Azeri territory, in the early 1990s, and in response to this occupation, Turkey closed its border with Armenia. However, in line with its policy of zero problems with neighboring countries, Turkey began reconciliation talks with Armenia last year after President Gul visited Yerevan to see a World Cup 2010 qualifying soccer match between the two countries' national teams. Since then, the two sides have made remarkable progress in the talks towards normalized relations, especially with two recent protocols on establishing diplomatic relations and developing bilateral relations under Swiss mediation. In related news, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan is expected to come to Turkey to watch the return game of last year's qualifying match together with his Turkish counterpart Gul, slated for Oct. 14 in Bursa.