04/24/2009, 00.00
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Armenian genocide, gas obstruct agreement between Ankara and Yerevan

Turkey and Armenia have announced the intention in principle to normalize their relations, under pressure from the United States. but even more important than the question of recognition of the genocide in 1915, there is Azerbaijan between the two countries, threatening to route its gas to Russia.

Ankara (AsiaNews) - Armenia and Turkey have announced that they have reached an agreement in principle to normalize their diplomatic relations. The declaration, which bears the date of April 22, states that "a road map has been identified" on the question.

The adjacent countries are bitterly divided over the question of the "Armenian genocide," the massacre of one and a half million Armenians in 1915. Turkey has always rejected, including at the international level, the use of the term "genocide" - which is prohibited inside the country - in regard to these events, which it attributes to the turmoil due to the first world war and the end of the Ottoman Empire, which, it says, also cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Turks.

The agreement in principle that has been reached is viewed, especially in the United States, as an effect of the pressure exerted by President Obama on both countries, both of them allies of the U.S. Obama himself, during his electoral campaign, made efforts for the recognition of the Armenian genocide. In this regard, the Washington Post reports the statement from an anonymous high official in the administration, according to whom the the commitment made by the two countries marks "an important step forward" at the end of negotiations that have been underway for about a year.

But according to its analysis, Stratfor, an American geopolitical think tank, says that the joint declaration came because of American pressure, but is also useful to both countries in order to keep the dialogue going. In Yerevan, in fact, they are less intransigent on the question of the recognition of the genocide - strongly backed by the Armenian lobby of the United States - while they look with great interest at the economic repercussions of normalization with neighboring Turkey.

Stratfor says that Armenia's plans are hampered by Azerbaijan, which has opened a dispute with Yerevan over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabak. An ally of Turkey, Azerbaijan is believed to have informed Ankara that an Armenian-Turkish agreement that did not also address this territorial dispute would have negative consequences on their bilateral relations. The threat concerns gas, of which Baku has extensive reserves. The country could route the gas from the gigantic reservoir of Shah Deniz (in the photo) to Russia. This would deprive Ankara of supplies, and especially of the revenue derived from transporting gas to Europe. This also brings Moscow's interests into play. In short, the game has begun.

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