Accessibility links

Leaders of Turkey, Armenia Vow to Improve Bilateral Ties


The leaders of Turkey and Armenia say they are determined to solve problems that exist between the neighboring countries, following historic talks in the Armenian capital.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisyan says those problems must not be left to future generations.

Mr. Sarkisyan and Turkish President Abdullah Gul spoke after meeting Saturday in Mr. Sarkisyan's office in Yerevan - a critical breakthrough for two nations that have no diplomatic ties.

Mr. Gul traveled to Armenia today after Mr. Sarkisyan had invited him in July to attend a football (soccer) game in Yerevan between Armenia and Turkey.

President Gul is the first Turkish leader to visit Armenia, although his visit is not official. He said he hoped the football game will help remove barriers between two nations that share a common history, and also contribute to regional peace and stability.

The football teams of Armenia and Turkey are playing today in a World Cup qualifying match.

In Yerevan, Mr. Gul's motorcade passed hundreds of protesters who were demanding that Turkey admit its role in the killing of one-and-a-half million ethnic Armenians nearly a century ago.

Armenians, along with much of the international community, say Turkey's Ottoman rulers killed one-and-a-half million Armenians in an orchestrated campaign between 1915 and 1923. Ankara strongly denies the charge of genocide. It says the number of Armenian deaths is inflated and that many Turks also were killed during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Turkey and Armenia, which cut ties 15 years ago, are also at odds over a disputed ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan.

Armenia and Turkish-backed Azerbaijan fought a six-year conflict over Azerbaijan's largely Armenian-inhabited Nagorno-Karabakh region, which declared independence in 1988. A cease-fire was declared in 1994, but sporadic exchanges of gunfire continue. The conflict has claimed 35,000 lives.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

XS
SM
MD
LG