On a three-day official visit to Azerbaijan, Turkish president Suleyman Demirel called for the withdrawal of Armenian/Karabakh forces from "occupied Azerbaijani territories" as a condition of settling the Karabakh conflict. Demirel deemed it necessary to publicly reassure the Azeri leadership that Turkey would "remain as always" Azerbaijan’s supporter in the Karabakh conflict and would "not take any steps running counter to Azerbaijan’s position." He stressed that Turkey was keenly interested in a peace settlement, was holding political consultations with Yerevan as well as with Baku, and was telling both sides that the conflict was hindering their economic development and international relations. Turkey’s policy "should not worry any side," he remarked. Pointing to Turkey’s recent "goodwill" decision to permit flights to Armenia through Turkish airspace, Demirel called for reciprocal Armenian gestures and expressed hope that settlement of the Karabakh conflict consistent with Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity would promote normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations. As if to underscore that these points did not undermine Turkish-Azeri solidarity and sense of kinship, Demirel addressed Azerbaijan’s parliament in the Azeri language, which is related to Turkish. Azerbaijan’s president Heydar Aliyev called for expanding bilateral trade and Turkish credits to Azerbaijan. (12)
Turkey has recently appeared increasingly keen on seeing a compromise settlement of the long-drawn out Karabakh conflict which debilitates Turkey’s protege Azerbaijan, interferes with Turkish economic engagement in Transcaucasus, prevents normalization between Ankara and Yerevan, and complicates Turkey’s relations with the US. The search is on for a settlement that would go a long way toward recognizing Karabakh gains on the ground while upholding at least formally the territorial integrity of defeated Azerbaijan. Chances for a compromise seem to have improved recently with Azerbaijan’s new counterleverage stemming from its oil projects, President Heydar Aliyev’s and his party’s recent consolidation of power through controlled elections, and Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosian’s success in marginalizing militant anti-Turkish groups and seeking improved relations with Turkey.
Kazakhstan’s Parliament Not Yet in Place, but Well in President’s Hand.