Turkey still stands with Azerbaijan, says Ankara amid fresh clashes

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Turkey, as always, stands by Azerbaijan, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told his Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov in a phone call Tuesday evening to discuss recent tensions between Azerbaijan and Turkey. Armenia.

Hasanov briefed Akar on the recent friction on the Armenian border, stressing that the “Armenian provocation was prevented”, according to a statement from the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.

Seven Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and 10 others were injured in clashes with Armenia on the border between the two former Soviet nations, the ministry said on Wednesday.

“The situation on the Azerbaijani-Armenian state border has stabilized since the evening of November 16,” the statement said. “Armenia’s provocation and military adventurism on the state border have completely failed.”

“We strongly condemn Armenia’s continued military provocations out of revenge. Armenia’s military-political leadership is directly responsible for escalating the situation in the region and preventing the implementation of the Tripartite Declaration” , Baku also said.

He added that “all kinds of military threats and provocations against the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within internationally recognized borders” will be dealt with accordingly.

Earlier, the ministry said that Armenian forces carried out “large-scale provocations” against Azerbaijani army checkpoints in the border regions of Kalbajar and Lachin.

In response, the Azerbaijani army launched an emergency operation, according to a statement, adding that the movement of Armenian forces was blocked.

Armenian officials reported one casualty and said 13 of their soldiers were captured in Tuesday’s hostilities, while 24 others were missing.

The Armenian Defense Ministry accused the Azerbaijani army of opening fire on the Armenian positions.

The fighting ceased on Tuesday evening after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke on the phone with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts and urged them to stop.

The Russian-brokered ceasefire was being held on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border on Wednesday, officials said, a day after deadly clashes between the arch-rivals raised fears of a new flare-up in their territorial dispute.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have taken steps to stabilize the situation on their borders, a Russian Defense Ministry statement said later in the day.

He said the clashes in the area have ceased and the situation is currently back to normal and under control.

Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been strained since 1991, when the Armenian army occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

During a 44-day conflict that began in late September last year, Azerbaijan liberated several towns and 300 settlements and villages illegally occupied by Armenia for nearly 30 years.

On November 10, 2020, the two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement to end the fighting and begin working towards a comprehensive resolution of the dispute. The Russian-brokered truce allowed Azerbaijan to regain control of large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas occupied by Armenia for nearly three decades.

Two months later, the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a pact to develop economic ties and infrastructure for the benefit of the entire region. It also included the creation of a trilateral working group on Karabakh.

A joint Turkish-Russian center was also created to monitor the post-war truce. Russia has deployed nearly 2,000 peacekeepers for at least five years to monitor the peace deal.

Since last year’s war, Armenia and Azerbaijan have reported occasional exchanges of fire.

The new clashes appear to be the worst outbreak of hostilities between the two countries since a six-week war last year in the Nagorno-Karabakh region that killed some 6,600 people.

Tensions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border have been building since May, when Armenia protested what it described as an incursion by Azerbaijani troops into its territory. Azerbaijan has insisted that its soldiers be deployed on what it considers its territory in areas where the border has not yet been demarcated. Clashes have since been reported.

Armenia has appealed to its Russian ally for military support under the Collective Security Treaty Organization pact, which obliges Moscow to protect it in the event of a foreign invasion.

“Given that there was an attack on the sovereign territory of Armenia, we call on the Russian Federation to protect the territorial integrity of Armenia,” Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen said on Tuesday. Grigoryan.

On the same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian by telephone, the Kremlin said in a statement, and agreed to “continue contacts” on the matter.

Before the announcement of the ceasefire, the European Union and the United Nations called on both parties to cease hostilities.

European Council President Charles Michel called on Twitter for a “total ceasefire”, while the UN urged Baku and Yerevan to “show restraint”.

EU chief Charles Michel urged Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders to call for a “complete ceasefire” after the border escalation.

Michel, the President of the European Council, said he had spoken with President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian of Armenia.

Michel did not blame the “difficult situation in the region”, but demanded an “urgent de-escalation and a complete ceasefire”.

“The EU is committed to working with partners to overcome tensions for a prosperous and stable South Caucasus,” he tweeted.

The United Nations has also urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to “show restraint” after the border clashes.

At the UN, Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said, “We urge all parties to exercise restraint…and to peacefully address any related concerns through dialogue.”

“We want to avoid any return to the kind of escalation we’ve had before,” Haq added.

In a statement, the French Foreign Ministry expressed its “deep concern” and called on all parties to respect the agreements reached in November 2020.

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