Intl community welcomes rapprochement protocols between Turkey and Armenia
The US, the European Union, Britain and Russia over the weekend welcomed the signing of protocols between Turkey and Armenia towards diplomatic ties and developing relations. In a statement, the European Commission said, "The EU welcomes the signature by Armenia and Turkey, in Zurich on October 10, of the two protocols relating to the establishment of diplomatic relations and the development of bilateral relations between the two countries, including the opening of the common border. The European Union encourages Armenia and Turkey to remain committed to the process of normalization and calls for the ratification and implementation the protocols as soon as possible." It added, "The EU believes that the full normalization of bilateral relations between Armenia and Turkey would be an important contribution to security, stability and cooperation throughout this crucial region and will continue to offer its political and technical support to this process." EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn, for his part, expressed hope that Turkey and Armenia would show the courage to fulfill their commitments under the protocols. He added that the accord was a good model for the region. British Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw also praised the pacts. Speaking at a ball hosted by the Turkish-British Chamber of Commerce and Industry in London, he said he welcomed the progress made in Turkish- Armenian relations and lauded Turkish President Abdullah Gul's decision last year to visit Yerevan to watch a soccer game. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who attended the signing ceremony in Zurich, said that his country is ready to support the normalization process between Turkey and Armenia. Russia can support this process through cooperation projects with Turkey and Armenia in the sectors of electricity, transportation and communications, he said. Lavrov added that the Russian United Energy Systems (UES) company is interested in transporting electricity from Armenia to Turkey, while another Russian company is ready to build a railway line between the two countries. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who also witnessed the signing ceremony, said that the US would do everything it could to build on the milestone that Turkey and Armenia achieved by signing the protocols. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also praised the pacts. "The secretary-general welcomes the signing today in Zurich of the two protocols aimed at normalizing relations between Armenia and Turkey," said a statement from Ban's office. "This historic decision constitutes a milestone toward the establishment of good neighborly relations and the development of bilateral cooperation between both countries. The secretary-general is confident that this development will also contribute to peace, security and stability in the South Caucasus." The statement added, "The secretary-general hopes that both protocols will be swiftly ratified by the parliaments of Armenia and Turkey to ensure full normalization of their bilateral relations."