Presidents of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia talk about peace and pipelines

Apr 27, 1998 02:00 AM

The presidents of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia have pledged to work for peace in the volatile Caucasus region and cooperate on oil and gas pipelines traversing their countries.
Azerbaijan has a long-running dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mostly ethnic Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan. Turkey, having ethnic bonds with Azerbaijan, refuses to formalise ties with Armenia until the issue is settled.
Earlier in the day, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel and Azeri President Geidar Aliev stressed the need for peace in an apparent message to the newly elected nationalist leader of neighbouring Armenia.
Armenian leader Robert Kocharian has given no sign that he will offer concessions over Nagorno-Karabakh since his election in March.
"The presidents expressed that conflicts should be resolved in respect to the territorial integrity of countries," foreign ministry spokesman Necati Utkan read from a joint statement by the three leaders. "They underlined that deepening neighbourly relations is the assurance of peace, stability and economic development in the region."
After a one-hour summit at the airport of this northern city, the leaders also reaffirmed support for projects to transport Caspian sea oil and natural gas across Georgia to Turkey. "The presidents said that they were ready to take solid steps for the realisation of the projects," the statement said.
Turkey has long campaigned for an oil pipeline running from Azerbaijan's capital Baku through Georgia to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. The statement implied that the same route would also be used for the transportation of Caspian Sea natural gas.
Turkey's strongest competitor, Russia, favours an oil pipeline that leads from the Caspian to Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk.

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