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Azerbaijan condemns Turkish pact

Map of Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijan has criticised an agreement between Turkey and Armenia, saying it raises doubts about regional stability.

The Azerbaijani foreign ministry said Turkey should not have normalised ties without a deal over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

During the war there in 1993, Turkey closed its border with Armenia out of solidarity with Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan's government wants Armenia to withdraw troops from Nagorno-Karabakh and return land.

Turkey and Armenia signed a historic accord on Saturday, paving the way for the opening of their shared border.

Gritted teeth

On Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the opening of his country's border with Armenia would be tied to progress on the disputed region.

"We want all the borders to be opened at the same time," Mr Erdogan was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

"But as long as Armenia has not withdrawn from Azerbaijani territory that it is occupying, Turkey cannot have a positive attitude on this subject."

BBC South Caucasus correspondent Tom Esslemont says the rapprochement between Azerbaijan's best friend and most bitter rival was never going to be plain sailing in Baku.

On Friday, the Azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesman told the BBC there was a chance that the Turkish-Armenian protocols might never be ratified by Turkey's parliament and that he could not comment until they had.

But a foreign ministry statement, circulated to Azerbaijan's media after the agreement was signed on Saturday, said the move to open the borders would "call into question the regional peace and security architecture".

A timetable for normalising relations between Turkey and Armenia was agreed in April, after a century of hostility between the two neighbours.



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