Azerbaijan, Turkey exchange protests after Armenia talks
Published: Thursday October 22, 2009
Washington - Azerbaijan complained that Turkey was obstructing its energy projects and removed Turkish flags from a Baku memorial to more than 1,000 Turks who died while fighting to establish the first Azerbaijani state in 1918-20, Turkish and Azerbaijani media reported.
The moves came following the Armenia-Turkey soccer match attended by presidents Serge Sargsyan and Abdullah Gül on October 14.
According to media reports, Turkish officials initially distributed Azerbaijani flags to individuals invited to watch the match, in what was intended as a show of support for Azerbaijan.
Turkish leaders continue to insist that the normalization of relations with Armenia depends on a settlement of the Karabakh conflict that is to Azerbaijan's liking.
But after FIFA, the international governing body for soccer, warned Turkey against politicizing the game, Turkish official ordered the Azerbaijani flags confiscated, leading to a fracas with police outside the stadium.
In an apparent response, the next morning Turkish flags were ordered removed from the Martyrs' Cemetery in Baku, leading to formal protests by the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
And in televised remarks on October 16, President Ilham Aliyev complained that Turkey received a 70 percent discount on Azerbaijani gas when compared to world prices.
He also blamed Turkey for delaying Azerbaijani gas exports to Europe for the past two years, and indicated Azerbaijan might sell more gas to Russia and Iran, as well as to Europe through a possible future cross-Black Sea pipeline.
But following a phone conversation between Mr. Gul and Mr. Aliyev on October 21, the Turkish president's office reported that "the misunderstandings and misperceptions brought about by some emotional reactions while we were passing through hard times have been cleared."