Putin: “Don’t pile difficult problems together”

Karabakh, Armenia-Turkey issues are to be dealt with separately, Russian leader says

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Wednesday January 13, 2010

Putin (right) at join press conference with Erdogan on January 13. Russian government photo

Washington - "The Karabakh problem and Turkish-Armenian relations are difficult issues each in their own right and it would not be right to link them into one package," Russian premier Vladimir Putin said this week at a joint press conference with his visiting Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Each of these problems is very difficult to resolve and if we pile them together prospects for their resolution would become even more remote," Mr. Putin stressed, according to the official transcript.

Mr. Putin's comment came in response to the only question asked by Turkish journalists at the January 13 press conference, indicating the issue's importance to the Turkish delegation.

Since signing protocols on the establishment of normal relations with Armenia last October, Turkey made their ratification and implementation contingent on progress in the Karabakh talks.

Armenia, together with France, Russia and United States, the three states that lead mediation efforts in the Karabakh talks, have argued against making such a linkage.

Mr. Putin's remarks echoed the comments he made in the meetings with Mr. Erdogan last year.

This week, noting the importance of Russia's relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, Mr. Putin stressed that Russia would continue to show "utmost respect for the positions of all our partners."

He added, however, it was up to the countries themselves to resolve their differences, while "Russia's role is to support all positive trends toward the resolution of these two very difficult problems."

Mr. Erdogan made no comments about the issues at the press conference, which focused on bilateral energy cooperation and trade.

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