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Turkey slams Armenia for halting deal to improve ties

18 february 2015, 13:16
Armenia's president Serzh Sargsyan. Photo courtesy of RIA
Armenia's president Serzh Sargsyan. Photo courtesy of RIA

 Turkey lashed out Tuesday at Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian for his decision to withdraw from parliament a landmark deal aimed at repairing relations between the two nations, AFP reports.

"We don't think this is the right approach by Armenia, it is an erroneous and baseless step," said Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic in Ankara, quoted by Turkish media.

Sarkisian said on Monday he was recalling the protocols both countries signed in 2009 from parliament due to the "absence of political will" on the Turkish side.

The deal was brokered under US, French and Russian supervision in Zurich but the accords have since languished without ratification in both nations' parliaments.

Sarkisian's decision appears to have for now buried the deal, which would have led to the opening up of the border between the two neighbours.

Relations between Turkey and Armenia remain blocked as Ankara refuses to cede to Yerevan's demands that it acknowledge the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman forces in World War I was a genocide.

Sarkisian's decision to recall the accords comes at a particularly critical moment, as Armenians prepare to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the massacres on April 24.

Armenians have angrily accused Turkey of trying to overshadow the ceremonies planned in Yerevan by advancing its advancing its commemorations of the 1915 Ottoman resistance against the Allied landing in Gallipoli to the same day.

Bilgic in turn accused Armenia of using the anniversary year as a pretext for renewing accusations against Turkey over the killings.

Yerevan says around 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered in a deliberate campaign against them.

Turkey disputes that figure.

Last year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then premier, offered condolences for the mass killings for the first time.

But hopes that the gesture would lead to a breakthrough in relations between the two countries have so far come to nothing.

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