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EU enlargement chief presses Turkey on Armenia

06 April 2010 [14:20] - TODAY.AZ
European Union Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule on Tuesday urged Turkey to press on with stalled reconciliation efforts with Armenia and linked the issue with Ankara's EU membership bid.
"Good relations with neighbors are very important in the framework of any country's entry to the European Union," Fule told journalists during a visit to the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

"The EU must also make efforts to help both sides end this deadlock," he added.

Armenia and Turkey signed a deal in October to establish diplomatic ties and open their border after decades of hostility stemming from World War I-era killings of Armenians under Ottoman Turks.

The ratification of the deal by the two countries' parliaments has stalled, however, with both sides accusing the other of trying to alter the terms of the agreement.

Tensions between Ankara and Washington, which strongly backed the deal, have added to uncertainty over the agreement. Ankara reacted with fury last month after a U.S. House committee voted a bill branding the World War I killings as "genocide."

Turkey's ambassador to the United States, Namık Tan, headed back to his post on Tuesday after being recalled during the spat.

Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kin died in deportations and orchestrated killings under the Ottoman Empire during World War I and have pressed for international recognition of the massacres as "genocide."

Turkey strongly rejects the genocide label and counters that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with Russian forces invading the crumbling empire.

/Hurriyet Daily News/

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