Turkey wants peace in Karabakh

Regarding the opinion-page article ``If Azerbaijan Talks Peace Armenia Will Listen,'' March 8: The article contains references to my country, Turkey, that I would like to clarify.

First, Turkey is not a party to this conflict. It is a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, resulting from the latter's expansionest designs for territorial conquest. Consequently, approximately a quarter of Azerbaijan is now occupied by Armenia, and one-seventh of Azeris (a total of over 1 million people) have become refugees in their own land. In the process, Armenia has ethnically cleansed the Azeri province of Nagorno-Karabakh of its indigenous Azeri population.

Second, the article mentions an ``introduction by Azerbaijan of ... weapons from ... Turkey.'' This is false, and no evidence was offered to substantiate it.

Third, reference to a ``blockade of Armenia by Turkey'' is misleading as well. The truth of the matter is that Turkey was among the first countries to recognize Armenia following its independence from the Soviet Union, and has always approached its new neighbor with goodwill and a spirit of cooperation.

Not only did we send a substantial amount of wheat and other foodstuffs to Armenia on a bilateral basis, but we also allowed transshipment of similar material by other countries through Turkey.

The author's description of ``newborn babies ... dying in hospitals with no heat'' is disingenuous, considering the fact that the Armenian tanks seem to have enough fuel to seize Azeri lands.

On the other hand, I would like to point out that in refugee camps, thousands of newborn Azeri babies also faced bitter temperatures without any heat during the last two winters, striving with their parents simply to survive. No babies and no human beings, for that matter, be they Azeri or Armenian, should have to undergo such suffering.

The ill-conceived policies of the Armenian leadership, in total defiance of international rules and norms, have brought about this tragedy, endangering the peace and stability of the entire region.

Turkey has been doing its best on the diplomatic front, in collaboration with the United States, to contribute to a peaceful solution to this problem. We are ready and willing to resume our good-neighbor relations with Armenia once it heeds international condemnation and restores legitimacy in the area by withdrawing its troops of occupation from Azerbaijan. Nuzhet Kandemir, Washington Turkish Ambassador to the US

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