Erdoğan demands Armenian pullout, does not endorse international ceasefire calls - blog - Oct. 1

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Armenian forces must pull back from Azerbaijani territory, refusing to endorse an international call for a ceasefire in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

"The path to lasting peace in this region is through the withdrawal of Armenians from every inch of Azerbaijani territory they have occupied,” state-run Anadolu news agency cited Erdoğan as telling Turkish lawmakers, during the reopening of parliament on Thursday.

The fighting continued to rage after the South Caucasus neighbours rejected calls for an immediate ceasefire from the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States.

“It is not acceptable that the Minsk Group is still seeking a ceasefire; the invaders must get out of this territory so that there is a solution here,” Erdoğan said. “I warn those who support this rogue state that they will be questioned before the common conscience of humanity."

The conflict, which started on Sunday, is the latest flare-up in an ongoing dispute over the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region. It has threatened to expand beyond the breakaway state as both sides accused each other of targeting the other’s border areas.

Turkey has thrown its firm support behind Azerbaijan, saying it is ready to do whatever is necessary to eject Armenian forces from the region, which lies within Azerbaijan’s borders but is governed by ethnic Armenians. That support has included supplying Syrian mercenaries to the front lines, according to independent observers including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Armenia has also repeatedly accused Turkey of providing Azerbaijani forces with air support.

Armenia's efforts to persistently slander Turkey will not save it, Erdoğan said.

(All times local Turkish time, GMT+3)

21:40 - Armenia says Turkey aspires to turn Azerbaijan's territory into training base for terrorists

Turkey has far-reaching goals about deploying Syrian and Libyan mercenaries to Nagorno-Karabakh and aspires to turn Azerbaijan into a training base for "terrorists", Anna Naghdalyan, spokesman of Armenian Foreign Ministry, said.

“Turkey’s actions are violating stability in the region and obstructing the peaceful community’s efforts for cessation of the hostilities. The international community has called on refraining from taking such actions, and Turkey must pay heed to this. The transfer of Syrian and Libyan terrorists to Azerbaijan has far-reaching goals and will lead to devastating consequences for the South Caucasus,” Naghdalyan said.

20:50 - Russia says deployment of foreign fighters to Nagorno-Karabakh unacceptable

Russia said during a phone call between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu that Turkey's deployment of foreign fighters, from Syria and Libya, to Nagorno-Karabakh to support Azerbaijan was unacceptable.

Moscow "stressed the unacceptability of involving illegal armed groups from other regions in the conflict", the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

"The need for maximally balanced steps to provide political and diplomatic assistance to Baku and Yerevan was mentioned," it said.

20:20 - Armenia says it recalls ambassador from Israel over arms sales to Azerbaijan

Armenian foreign ministry said on Thursday that it has recalled its ambassador from Israel for consultations over alleged arms sales by Israel to Azerbaijan, Reuters reported.

"Israel's workstyle is unacceptable. The ministry has to call back its ambassador in Israel," the ministry's spokeswoman Anna Naghdalyan said.

19:30 - U.S. Congresswoman set to introduce a resolution on Nagorno-Karabakh dispute

Jackie Speier, U.S. Representative and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair, is set to introduce a resolution which denounces Azerbaijan’s offensive and denounces Turkey’s role in the attacks, the Armenian Weekly said.

The resolution also calls for an immediate cease-fire, and urges OSCE Minsk Group to “secure an agreement from Azerbaijan to cease offensive military operations against Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia and to accept independent third-party monitoring along the line of contact.”

19:00 - Azerbaijan's first lady thanks Erdoğan for 'principled stance', support

Mehriban Aliyeva, the First Vice President and First Lady of Azerbaijan, thanked Turkey and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for "principled stance" on the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. 

"First of all, I am grateful to the Turkish people and especially Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for their principled stance. Their solidarity and support honoured each and every one of the Azeri citizens," she said.

18:15 - OSCE Minsk Group 'strongly condemns' Nagorno-Karabakh escalation

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group, set up in 1992 to mediate in the decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States, said it condemned the recent escalation of violence "in the strongest term".

“We call for an immediate cessation of hostilities between the relevant military forces,” the joint statement said.

They urged Yerevan and Baku to “commit without delay to resuming substantive negotiations, in good faith and without preconditions” under what is called the Minsk process.

17:40 - Turkish parliamentary speaker says Istanbul-Armenians have nothing to do with Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

Turkish Parliamentary Speaker Mustafa Şentop said Armenians residing in Istanbul had nothing to do with the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Turkey has been accused of targeting and persecuting Istanbul Armenians since the clashes erupted on Sunday.

17: 15 - U.S. reiterates its call on both sides to cease hostilities 

The United States' Ambassador to the Minsk Group, James S. Gilmore III, in a statement released on October 1, called for ceasing hostilities immediately, and to refrain from any action that exacerbates the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. 

Gilmore called on the sides to stop fighting immediately and return to substantive negotiations under the auspices of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs as soon as possible and without preconditions.

16:30 - Turkey sends Syrian mercenaries to Nagorno-Karabakh, Macron says

French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Turkey of deploying Syrian mercenaries to Nagorno-Karabakh to support Azerbaijan and said it was working with Russia to reach a ceasefire between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces, Reuters reported.

"According to the confirmed we have, Syrian fighters affiliated with jihadist groups passed through Gaziantep and joined the front in Karabakh," Macron said.

14:20 - Azerbaijani troops ‘suffered enormous losses’ in overnight clashes: Armenian Defence Ministry

Armenian forces killed at least 350 Azerbaijani soldiers in border clashes overnight, the Armenian Defence Ministry said on Thursday.

Three helicopters were downed and 15 armoured vehicles, including drones, were destroyed, Agence France Presse cited ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan as saying.

The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry denied that one of its helicopters had been downed and crashed in Iran, AFP reported.

14:05 - Two Le Monde journalists wounded in Azerbaijani shelling: Armenia

Two journalists from French newspaper Le Monde were wounded by an Azerbaijani bombardment in the town of Martuni in eastern Armenia, the Armenian government said on Thursday.

The reporters were being transported to a city hospital, the government said in a statement, adding that more journalists were in their group.

The Armenian Unified Infocenter, managed by the government, later reported that an Armenian TV crewmember was also wounded in the incident.

11:25 - Macron, Putin call for immediate ceasefire: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron called for an immediate ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh, Reuters reported on Thursday.

The leaders discussed steps the OSCE Minsk group could take to de-escalate the conflict, the news agency cited the Kremlin as saying in a statement.

A French Presidency source told Reuters they shared the same concern regarding Turkey sending Syrian fighters to Nagorno-Karabakh.

10:30 - Azerbaijan-Armenia fighting rages as talks rejected
Border clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan showed no signs of abating on Thursday as the two countries rejected international calls for negotiations to halt five days of fighting over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said the military had launched counterattacks overnight to “liberate occupied territories” from Armenian forces, shelling several of their positions, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.

Agence France Presse said the confirmed death toll in the fighting rose to nearly 130 people including civilians as of Thursday. Both sides claim to have inflicted heavy casualties on the other.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts on Wednesday, calling for a ceasefire. Both governments rejected the request. Russia and Armenia have a joint defence pact, but it does not encapsulate the breakaway enclave.

23:45 - Ruling AKP co-chairman calls on Turkic republics to stand with Azerbaijan

Deputy Chairman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Numan Kurtulmuş said Turkic republics should stand with Azerbaijan diplomatically and show their fraternity.

Armenia had “launched an unjustified attack and put itself in a bad position internationally,” Kurtulmuş told Azerbaijani state television AZ TV, Ulusal Kanal reported.

Armenia “was desperate in the face of the valiant fight of the Azerbaijani army,” and thus “turned the matter into black propaganda,” Kurtulmuş said.

The OSCE Minsk group “never once told Armenia to stop in 30 years,” he continued. “This means openly taking sides.”

23:30 - Resolution only possible ‘if Armenia’s occupation ends’: Turkish presidential spox

Turkey’s presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın told pro-government newspaper Sabah on Wednesday that Armenia was illegally occupying Azerbaijani territory, and the only solution to tensions in the Caucasus was to end it.

The Nagorno-Karabakh issue will “only end if the Armenian occupation comes to an end”, Kalın said. “Without this, the cease-fire and negotiations will only serve as temporary solutions.”

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, created in 1992 to resolve the matter, failed in its task for nearly 30 years, Kalın said, accusing it of not being neutral. The spokesman said the OSCE initiative was influenced by Armenian diaspora lobbies in France and United States.

“Ending the occupation is for Armenia’s own good too,” he continued. “When it does this, it will enrich its own economy through economic integration.”