Akar says Turkish-Russian centre plays an important role in Nagorno-Karabakh

The Turkish-Russian joint centre will play an important role in monitoring the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar was quoted by state-run Anadolu news agency as saying Monday. 

Akar said the centre, which began operating over the weekend, is looking to create a permanent ceasefire in the disputed region, the scene of six weeks-long conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia that ended in a Russia-brokered truce in November.

The centre, located in the Merzilli village of the Aghdam region in Karabakh, will help with "efforts carried out to ensure stability, peace and tranquility in the region,” Akar said.

A Russian peacekeeping contingent of 2,000 soldiers was deployed to monitor the ceasefire, but no Turkish troops were allowed to join this mission. President Vladimir Putin insisted that allowing it would unnecessarily provoke Armenia, who was sensitive to a larger Turkish military presence. 

Turkey supported Azerbaijan during the war which started on September 27. Ankara was also not a party to the ceasefire that paused the conflict, but it stands to benefit from closer ties to Baku that followed it. 

The first meeting of officials for Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan on implementing aspects of the ceasefire took place over the weekend. A follow up meeting is scheduled for Feb. 5.