Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said he expects the month of October to be a “month of peace” while Turkey's efforts are under way in regards to peace in the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans.Davutoğlu, who was in New York for the UN General Assembly last week, said in a press briefing in Ankara yesterday upon his return from the United States that Turkey will do its best to prevent sanctions against Iran from coming to the table.
“Sanctions would hurt the Iranian public as well as Iran's neighbors including Turkey. So we will speed up diplomatic efforts to prevent the option of sanctions,” he said.
Davutoğlu and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are expected to go to Iran this month. The Iranian delegation will meet with representatives of the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany in Geneva for talks on its nuclear program.
The Foreign Minister also said that he talked with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Monday and added that Iran assured the international community that it will work with the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Today's meeting in Geneva is expected to set the stage for progress in resolving the standoff over the Islamic Republic's refusal to freeze uranium enrichment and heed other UN Security Council demands.
The US, Israel and the EU fear that Iran is using its nuclear program to develop nuclear weapons. But Tehran says the program serves purely civilian purposes and that it has the right to enrich uranium for use in nuclear power plants. The talks will be the first since a 2008 session in Geneva foundered over Iran's refusal to discuss enrichment.
Davutoğlu, who met Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari in New York, also said that they have seen what sanctions brought to neighboring Iraq. He and Zebari discussed Prime Minister Erdoğan's upcoming visit to Baghdad which is scheduled to take place this month.
Upon a question from reporters regarding cooperation with Iraq in solving Turkey's terrorism problem with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Davutoğlu said there are a few areas of stress in fighting terrorism and one of them is cooperation with Iraq.
“We have established very good relations with Iraq,” he said and added that another important area of emphasis is cooperation with the United States. He said they had reviewed the cooperation agreement between Turkey and the US under the previous George W. Bush administration in New York with US President Barack Obama and US Foreign Minister Hillary Clinton. Since late 2007, the US has been supplying Turkey with real-time intelligence through which the Turkish military has been conducting air raids on PKK targets in northern Iraq.
“We also attach importance to cooperation with the northern Iraqi administration. This is a trilateral mechanism. And we will have our next meeting in Arbil,” he said.
In addition, he mentioned efforts to cooperate with Syria and the countries of the European Union in that regard. “So all these efforts show that we are engaged in active attempts to eliminate terrorism,” he said.
Davutoğlu also evaluated the month of October to be a “month of peace” because of unexpected developments in the Caucasus. He said that there are parallel developments to the Turkey-Armenia normalization process as meetings between Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan show regarding Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijani territory occupied by Armenia, and that this kind of development has not been seen in more than 10 years.
In separate meetings held on Monday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Clinton told the foreign ministers of the two countries that they should proceed apace and not get bogged down by political opposition to a deal, which they hope to seal by mid-October.
Prime Minister Erdoğan announced on Sunday that Turkey and Armenia would sign a deal in Zurich to establish diplomatic ties on Oct. 10. But the agreement must be approved by the countries' parliaments to take effect, and a major dispute remains over the World War I-era killings of Anatolian Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Turkey insists that it was not genocide and that the death toll has been inflated.
Turkish President Abdullah Gül attended a World Cup qualifier in Yerevan last year in what was hailed as a breakthrough, but Sarksyan has said he will only go to the game in Turkey if there's progress toward opening the border.
According to Davutoğlu, the new process in southeast Europe is proof of October being a “month of peace” as Turkey is going to host the Oct. 8-9 South East European Cooperation ministerial meeting. During that meeting Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina will sign an agreement on confidence-building measures.
The initiative was launched in Sofia in July, 1996, during a meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of South-East European countries, which decided to start a long-term process of multilateral cooperation among participating states. As of June 5, 2009 the chairmanship-in-office of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) has been taken over by Turkey.
On Oct. 13 Davutoğlu will pay a one-day visit to neighboring Syria, a visit which involves a symbolic gesture reflecting remarkable progress in bilateral relations between the two countries. Davutoğlu and his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Moallem, signed an accord to end visa requirements and signed a bilateral cooperation accord under which top ministers from the two countries will meet each year. The accord, called the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council Agreement, is similar to the mechanism between Turkey and Iraq.
During the one day visit, Davutoğlu and Moallem will hold the first part of their meeting in Aleppo. The second part of the meeting will be held in Gaziantep after the two ministers walk across the border.
Another development in October will be that Davutoğlu and Erdoğan will go to Pakistan for an official visit on Oct. 25-26. There is possibility that they might go to Afghanistan, according to diplomatic sources.