Ozal brings moral support but little material help for Azeris

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TURKEY'S President, Turgut Ozal, arrived in the tense Caucasus region yesterday, warning that his country would never allow a 'Greater Armenia' to emerge on its eastern border, but he stopped short of saying what Turkey could do for its struggling ethnic cousins in Azerbaijan.

'Use of force for territorial acquisition is unacceptable. Armenia must end its occupation. Nobody should doubt that Azerbaijan and Turkey will work together for this,' Mr Ozal said at the start of a state visit to Baku, the Azeri capital. 'It is now clear that this is not just a war for Nagorny Karabakh, but shows that they are after a Greater Armenia.'

For Azerbaijan's part, President Abulfez Elchibey seemed to have given up hope of military assistance from Turkey. The government of Suleyman Demirel, the Prime Minister, has imposed an embargo on aid to Armenia through Turkey, but has ruled out Azerbaijan's one request that helicopters be sent to evacuate refugees.

'Even if Armenia is victorious on the battlefield, it will be defeated politically,' Mr Elchibey told reporters after talks with Mr Ozal. He hoped for help from the United Nations and the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, often lauded by the Turks, but looked exhausted and depressed as he has done since the big Armenian offensive captured the Kelbadzhar region two weeks ago.

Armenia now controls about a tenth of Azeri territory. Violating international law, the attack joined Armenia to the Armenian-controlled territory of Nagorny Karabakh, formerly an Armenian majority part of Azerbaijan that the two sides have been fighting over for the past five years. 'We had to impose the peace. They refused a ceasefire without preconditions,' said Armen Grigorian, an official at the Armenian Foreign Ministry. Armenia and Azerbaijan continued yesterday to shell positions inside each other's national territory.

The continued conflict and Armenian expansion has made the rest of the Caucasus uneasy. Many believe that Russian forces are using Armenia to help destabilise the volatile mountain region and thus ease the way for a return to rule by Moscow.

Turkish sources said the Turkish Foreign Ministry wanted to recommend to Azerbaijan - whose weak and divided army has no chance yet of winning back lost territory by force - that it make a new call for an unconditional ceasefire to allow a surge of international support to work against Armenia. Mr Ozal, however, takes issue with the Foreign Ministry which is controlled by his rival, Mr Demirel, and he has tried to rattle Turkey's sabre. During a tour of Central Asia last week he said Turkey should 'show its teeth' and recommended military exercises along the border with Armenia.

KIEV - President Leonid Kravchuk of Ukraine signed a friendship treaty with the Georgian leader, Eduard Shevardnadze, yesterday Reuter reports. The two men criticised Russia as 'a third force' bent on interfering in the affairs of its neighbours and pursuing the interests of the defunct Soviet Union.