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Turkey says reconciliation with Armenia at risk

Turkey says reconciliation with Armenia at risk

The Turkish prime minister on Wednesday said an Armenian court's reference to the mass killings of Armenians could harm efforts to end a century of enmity.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan was reacting to the Jan. 12 approval by Armenia's Constitutional Court of an October agreement to heal ties and reopen shared borders.
Armenia on Tuesday defended the court's decision, triggering an exchange of harsh statements that could further complicate the two countries' implementation of the deal.
In a ruling on whether the proposed agreement was constitutional, the Armenian court referred to the country's independence declaration, which calls for recognition of the 1915 massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide. Turkey says the number is inflated and that many died on both sides during a chaotic period.
Erdogan called the court's ruling "unacceptable" and warned that the process of reconciliation "would be harmed if it is not corrected."
"Moreover, we don't have the luxury of keeping Armenia-Azerbaijan relations out of this," Erdogan said in apparent response to the court's also saying agreements with Turkey shouldn't concern any third party. He spoke during a visit to Saudi Arabia.
Turkey also wants Armenian troops withdrawn from Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-occupied enclave in Azerbaijan. Turkey closed the border in 1993 to protest Armenia's war with neighboring Azerbaijan.
"No one should expect deliberations on the protocols to take place even at the commission level, let alone the floor, unless Armenia withdraws from Nagorno-Karabakh," Bekir Bozdag, a senior lawmaker from Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, said on Wednesday. "Armenia must honor its promise and fulfill its responsibility if it wants the normalization of ties between the two countries."
Turkey shares ethnic and cultural bonds with Azerbaijan and wants a peaceful settlement to the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Turkey's recent spat with Armenia has emboldened the country's opposition to demand the government scrap the Oct. 10 deal altogether.
Devlet Bahceli, the chairman of a nationalist opposition party, said the government should "immediately withdraw" the protocols from the parliament. No date has been set for their ratification.