Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Thursday, 22 April 2010 12:12 UK

Armenia suspends normalisation of ties with Turkey

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L) and Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian sign historic protocols on
The two countries signed a deal to nomalise relations last year

Armenia's ruling coalition has said it is halting the ratification in parliament of landmark accords on normalising relations with Turkey.

It said it was because of Turkey's refusal to "ratify the protocols without preconditions", chiefly over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The countries signed a historic deal in 2009 to re-establish diplomatic ties.

There had been a century of hostility following the World War I mass killings of Armenians.

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Armenians killed by Ottoman Turks in 1915-6
Many historians and the Armenian people believe the killings amount to genocide
Turks and some historians deny they were orchestrated
More than 20 countries regard the massacres as genocide

Diplomatic moves to normalise relations have faltered recently.

The Armenian coalition decided to halt the ratification process of the accord signed in October last year after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it would depend on a peace deal over Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian statement said.

"Considering the Turkish side's refusal to fulfil the requirement to ratify the accord without preconditions in a reasonable time, making the continuation of the ratification process in the national parliament pointless, we consider it necessary to suspend this process," the statement said.

"The political majority in the national assembly considers statements from the Turkish side in recent days as unacceptable, specifically those by Prime Minister Erdogan, who has again made the ratification of the Armenia-Turkish protocols by the Turkish parliament directly dependent on a resolution over Nagorno-Karabakh," it said.

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 to protest against Armenia's war with its neighbour Azerbaijan over the enclave, which is within Azerbaijan but under the control of ethnic Armenian forces.

Map of Nagorno-Karabakh

Thousands of people lost their lives in a conflict that erupted after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

A fragile ceasefire was signed in 1994 leaving Karabakh under de facto ethnic Armenian control.

In October last year, Turkey and Armenia signed a historic accord normalising relations despite differences over the World War I mass killings of Armenians.

Armenia wants Turkey to recognise the killings as an act of genocide, but successive Turkish governments have refused to do so.

Hundreds of thousands of Armenians died in 1915, when they were deported en masse from eastern Anatolia by the Ottoman Empire.

More than 20 countries have recognised the killings as deliberate genocide. Turkish officials accept that atrocities were committed but deny they were orchestrated.

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