Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has called on Armenia to ‘refrain from further provocations’ days after Yerevan and Baku traded accusations over an escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh that has caused at least three dead.
Speaking at a gathering of Turkish diplomats in Ankara on August 8, Cavusoglu reiterated his country’s vision of peace in the South Caucasus region.
“Since the end of the war, Turkey has continued to make efforts to ensure peace in the region,” Cavusoglu said, referring to the deadly six-week war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Upper Karabakh and surrounding regions which ended with a brokerage from Moscow. ceasefire in November 2020.
Backed by Turkey, a sworn enemy of Armenia, Azerbaijan has taken control of swaths of territory controlled by ethnic Armenians since the former Soviet republics fought a war in Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990s.
“Now we are not talking about the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, displaced people, refugees and a conflict that can resume at any time, but about regional peace and cooperation,” Cavusoglu said. “We again call on Armenia to refrain from participating in further provocations [against Azerbaijan in Karabakh].”
On August 3, ethnic Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh said two Armenian soldiers had been killed and nearly two dozen others injured in what they described as an attack by Azerbaijani forces on their military positions along of the Lachin corridor carried out using drones, mortars, and grenade launchers.
The Lachin Corridor connects Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh and is currently controlled by Russian peacekeepers under the 2020 ceasefire.
Baku, for its part, said the operation was in retaliation for the killing of an Azerbaijani soldier by ethnic Armenian forces in the region on August 1.
Azerbaijan also claimed to have captured strategic heights in the mountainous region overlooking the Lachin Corridor.
Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian leader Arayik Harutiunian ordered a “partial mobilization” of army reservists following the incidents. However, the situation has yet to escalate amid reported agreements that ethnic Armenians will leave several villages along the Lachin Corridor to be handed over to Azerbaijan as part of the ceasefire agreement. -fire.
Despite what appears to be a de-escalation of the conflict in line with calls from Russia, the United States and the European Union, the situation in and around Nagorno-Karabakh remains relatively tense as Armenians and Azerbaijanis continue to accuse of regular ceasefire. offences.
Armenia says one of its soldiers was injured along the border with Azerbaijan on August 6, a claim denied by Azerbaijan but confirmed by the Russian Defense Ministry in its latest news bulletin. on the Nagorno-Karabakh peacekeeping operation.
Turkey, which is Azerbaijan’s main military and political ally and has no diplomatic relations with Armenia, has been engaged in a normalization process with Yerevan since late last year.
Ankara, however, made it clear that the establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of borders with Armenia depended on Yerevan’s acceptance of Baku’s main demands.
Commenting on the prospect of normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations in July, Cavusoglu said that Yerevan should specifically negotiate a peace agreement sought by Baku and open a land corridor to the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakhchivan.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in a dispute over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh for years.
Nagorno-Karabakh, which had been populated mostly by ethnic Armenians, declared independence from Azerbaijan amid a 1988-1994 war that left an estimated 30,000 dead and displaced hundreds of thousands.
Internationally mediated negotiations with the participation of the OSCE’s so-called Minsk Group – co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States – failed to reach a resolution before war broke out again in September 2020.
In the aftermath of the war that killed more than 6,500 people, Armenia agreed to cede three districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh that had been under Armenian control since the 1990s, including the Lachin corridor, and Russia deployed some 2,000 blue helmets to oversee the truce.