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Turkey and Armenia

April 17, 1993

To eliminate any misunderstanding your March 24 editorial may have created, let me say that Turkey is sensitive to human suffering in Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Given the recent reports of economic hardship in Armenia and references they contain to Turkey, I would like to reiterate that Turkey has always authorized the use of its land and airspace for the shipment of humanitarian aid to Armenia. Turkey, with limited resources, also provided food and medical assistance to this country. Therefore, allegations that Turkey has imposed an economic embargo on Armenia are totally unfounded. In addition to the transit of relief supplies for Armenia through Turkey, rail lines between the two countries are open and Armenian nationals are free to enter Turkey. As the last example of Turkey's cooperation with other countries in providing assistance to Armenia, the Turkish government has allowed France to send 300 tons of food to Armenia by rail through Turkey.

The U.S. Department of State, in its March 12 statement, recognized Turkey's approach to the situation in the Transcaucasus by expressing the U.S. Administration's appreciation for Turkey's role in providing humanitarian assistance to Armenia and its active endeavors for a political solution to the Karabakh conflict.

It should be noted that the people of Azerbaijan, especially those in the autonomous republic of Nakhichevan, suffer from an economic blockade as a direct result of the ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Azeris are victims and are also entitled to receive comparable humanitarian concern and attention from the international community.

Your editorial, unfortunately, fails to pinpoint the real cause of the suffering in Armenia and Azerbaijan by ignoring the conflict in Karabakh and the violation of the Azarbaijani territorial integrity. It must be noted that when the fighting stops and the occupation forces in Azerbaijan withdraw and a peaceful solution to the Karabakh issue is found, the main cause of suffering in Armenia and Azerbaijan will end. Here, the important question remains whether the parties are ready to fulfill their international obligations, including respect for each other's territorial integrity and refraining from attempts of acquisition of territory by force.

OGUZ CELIKKOL

Consul General of Turkey

Los Angeles

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