Turkey must definitely be in any peace process, Aliyev says of Karabakh conflict
Iran Press TV
Monday, 05 October 2020 5:45 PM
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev says Turkey should take part in any peace process for the Nagorno-Karabakh following a potential future ceasefire, amid a worrying flare-up of deadly clashes in the disputed region between Azerbaijan and Armenia-backed forces.
"Turkey must definitely be in any upcoming peace process. A peace process will surely be started. Clashes cannot go on forever, so the sooner the better," the Azeri president said on Monday in an interview with Turkey's TRT Haber.
"Turkey is ... a big global potential ... and neighbor to the South Caucasus," he further noted, adding that Ankara's position served as a "warning" to others.
Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian breakaway region, is internationally recognized as part of the Republic of Azerbaijan; it has been under Armenia's control since the early 1990s. The territory declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991.
The recent clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenian-backed separatist forces from the contested region – the worst in decades – erupted on September 27, with both Yerevan and Baku accusing each other of provocation.
Since the onset of the clashes, scores of people have reportedly been killed in the fighting between Azerbaijani troops and ethnic Armenian forces, including more than 40 civilians.
Ankara backs Baku in the decades-long dispute over the disputed region, which Azerbaijan considers under Armenian occupation. Turkey and Azerbaijan have strong relations and both consider themselves "one nation, two states."
The Turkish government has already denounced what it describes as the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, vowing support for ethnic Turkic Azerbaijan.
Both Ankara and Baku have so far denied there is any Turkish involvement in the ongoing conflict. However, Turkey says it is ready to support Azerbaijan if needed.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Aliyev said Azeri troops had managed to retake several areas, stressing that a truce could only be possible if Baku received international guarantees and a "concrete timeline" from Yerevan on pulling its troops out of the region.
"We don't have eyes on any other country's lands, but what is ours should be ours," he added.
In a televised speech addressing his nation on Sunday, Aliyev had vowed that Baku would not cease military action until Yerevan set the timetable.
The Azerbaijani leader's tone on Sunday made clear that he would not welcome calls for an immediate ceasefire as Russia, the United States, and the European Union (EU), among others, have already urged Baku several times to hold a truce.
The Azeri president also said on Sunday that Baku in the past had repeatedly called for sanctions against Armenia, but all to no avail, blaming Yerevan and some European leaders for the current situation.
NATO chief urges Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire
Separately on Monday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called for an immediate ceasefire in the contested region as the clashes claimed further lives on Monday, the ninth day of fighting.
"It is extremely important that we convey a very clear message to all parties that they should cease fighting immediately, that we should support all efforts to find a peaceful, negotiated solution," he said, speaking alongside Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara.
Stoltenberg also stressed that there was no military solution to the current conflicts over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Cavusoglu, for his part, said that NATO should also call for the pullout of Armenian forces from the region.
"Azerbaijan is battling in its own lands; it is trying to take back its lands from terrorists and occupiers. Legally and morally, everyone should support Azerbaijan in that sense," Cavusoglu added.
The top Turkish diplomat also said that "everyone, namely NATO," should call for the settlement of the current problem based on international laws, the UN resolutions, and Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.
As fighting escalates, there is concern that it will turn into a direct war with Armenia, which has so far denied that it had directed fire "of any kind" toward Azerbaijan.
The intensifying conflict also threatens to drag in other regional powers as Azerbaijan is fully supported by Turkey, while Armenia has signed a defense deal with Russia.
The growing clashes have also aroused international concern over stability in the South Caucasus, where pipelines carry Azerbaijan's oil and gas to world markets.
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