OSCE chairman welcomes 'historic' Armenia, Turkey deal

Turkey and Armenia
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Greek Prime Minister and Foreign Minister George Papandreou whose country currently presides over Europe's top security and rights organization welcomed on Sunday the signing of an 'historic' deal between Armenia and Turkey to normalize bilateral relations.

VIENNA, October 11 (RIA Novosti) - Greek Prime Minister and Foreign Minister George Papandreou whose country currently presides over Europe's top security and rights organization welcomed on Sunday the signing of an 'historic' deal between Armenia and Turkey to normalize bilateral relations.

"I welcome the historic agreement to normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia, and commend the effort and political will both leaders have invested to overcome differences and work towards a more secure and stable region, which is in all our interests," said Papandreou, chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The historic accords restoring diplomatic relations and opening borders between the two countries were signed on Saturday in Zurich by the Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers.

The ceremony was attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Slovenian Foreign Minister Samuel Zbogar, and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

The agreement is still to be ratified by the Turkish and Armenian parliaments amid continued fierce opposition from nationalist parties in both countries.

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in a show of support for Muslim ally Azerbaijan, following a bloody conflict over Nagorny Karabakh between the two ex-Soviet republics. Turkey has also demanded that Yerevan drop its campaign to have the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 internationally recognized as genocide.

Armenia and Turkey agreed to a "roadmap" to normalize their relations under Swiss mediation this April. The draft pact between the countries had been backed by the United States and European Union.

Nagorny Karabakh, a region in Azerbaijan with a largely Armenian population, has been a source of conflict between the former Soviet republics since the late 1980s. The province has its own government and is de facto independent.

During his recent international visit, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan met with representatives of Armenian diasporas in different countries, and many of them expressed their opposition to the signing of a Turkish-Armenian agreement.

 

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