Parliament speaker Sahin receives US ambassador
Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Sahin received US Ambassador to Ankara James Jeffrey yesterday. Speaking to reporters afterwards, Jeffrey stressed his country's eagerness to improve cooperation with Turkey. Asked whether US supports reconciliation talks between Turkey and Armenia towards normalized relations, Jeffrey said that it does, adding that the US places great importance on peace and stability in the Caucasus. Asked whether the US might extend concrete support to the process, Jeffrey said Washington backs the process politically by playing a key role in the Minsk Group's mediation between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. He said he hoped the process would continue to progress, adding that this is up to Ankara and Yerevan. In related news, in a bid to win opposition support for the talks with Armenia, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu yesterday briefed main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal, Democratic Left Party (DSP) leader Masum Turker, and Felicity Party (SP) leader Numan Kurtulmus on the reconciliation process. During the meetings, Davutolgu reportedly reassured the opposition leaders that Turkey's move to normalize relations with Yerevan would not harm its ties with Azerbaijan. Under Swiss mediation, Turkey and Armenia announced on Aug. 31 that they had agreed to start internal consultations before signing two protocols on establishing diplomatic ties and developing bilateral relations. Davutoglu's talks with opposition parties mark the beginning of the domestic consultation process, which is expected to be concluded within six weeks following the announcement of the deal. The conclusion of the domestic consultations will then be followed by the ratification of the protocols by the Turkish and Armenian parliaments. Parliament's role is thus vital in the normalization process, as the accords won't go into effect until Parliament approves them. Davutoglu will continue to hold such meetings in the days to come. In related news, the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) has announced that it will provide scholarships to 100 Armenian students living in America to receive education for one semester in Turkish universities to help bilateral reconciliation.