Erdoğan says Armenia withdrawing from Nagorno-Karabakh only way to peace - blog - Sept. 28

(Updates article with Erdoğan's remarks, updated death toll; statements from the Karabakh and Armenian defence ministries in paragraphs 2-3)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Armenia must immediately withdraw from Azeri lands which it is occupying so the peace would reign in the region again.

“The crisis in the region that started with the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh must be put to an end. With the immediate withdrawal from the occupied Azerbaijani territories by Armenia, the region will regain peace and tranquillity," Erdoğan said during a speech in Istanbul.

The Turkish President also said Azerbaijan had been waiting for a solution for over 30 years, and Baku could not be called to account over the recent escalation.

"For nearly 30 years they had been accounting for you, 'Let's solve this matter. Let's not prolong this anymore,' they said. Whose lands are the occupied lands? Territories of Azerbaijan. You all accept this. You accept Nagorno-Karabakh. The invaders are there. Nobody asks to account for this. Azerbaijan, who says it is the day of reckoning, had to take matters into their hands," Erdoğan said.

Both sides reported civilian casualties. 

The clashes that started on Sunday between Armenia and Azerbaijan are the latest flare-up in an ongoing dispute over the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region. Although the region is officially recognised as part of Azerbaijan, it is governed as a de facto independent state with an ethnic Armenian majority.

(All times local, GMT+3)


19:30 - Erdoğan, Johnson hold phone call, discussing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke over the phone with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss bilateral ties, the recently escalated conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, state-run Anadolu news agency said.


19:00 - Turks-Azeris hold protest in front of Armenian Partiarchate in Istanbul

A group of Turks and Azeris held a protest in front of the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul's Kumkapı neighbourhood, with a convoy of cars displaying the flag of Azerbaijan.


18:00 - Turkish parties condemn Armenian ‘attack’ on Azerbaijan

Turkey’s mainstream political parties, the ruling Justice and Development Party and its ally Nationalist Movement Party, along with the opposition Republican People’s Party and Good Party, have released a joint statement condemning what they saw as the Armenian attack on Azerbaijan.

“As political parties having representation in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, we strongly condemn the attack with heavy weapons by the Armenian Armed Forces targeting Azerbaijani civilian settlements and soldiers on September 28 in clear violation of the ceasefire and international law in Upper Karabakh,” according to a joint statement.

Turkey supports Azerbaijan’s right to self-defence in line with international law to protect its people and ensure territorial integrity, it added.


17:30 - Turkey deploying Syrian fighters to support Azerbaijan, two fighters say

Two fighters from Turkish-backed rebel groups in northern Syria said that they were being deployed to support Azerbaijan in its escalating conflict with neighbouring Armenia, Reuters said.

Reuters said it could not independently verify their accounts and the fighters declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.


17:00 - Armenia to activate anti aircraft missiles if Turkey deploys F-16s in Nagorno-Karabakh, Ambassador says

Armenian Ambassador to Russia, Vardan Toganyan, said Armenia will activate Alexander missiles if Turkey deploys F-16 fighter jets in the disputed region.

"As the military administration has repeatedly stated, if the Turkish F-16s stand on the people of Nagorno-Karabakh like the sword of Democles, all measures will be taken, including the Iskander missiles. In other words, the Armenian army will have to use all its arsenal to ensure security," Toganyan said in an interview with Russian state-owned news agency Ria Novosti.

Iskander is a mobile short-range ballistic missile system produced and deployed by Russia. 


16:30 - Kremlin says Russia in close contact with Turkey about developments in Nagorno-Karabakh

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia and Turkey are in constant contact about the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Habertürk reported.

He said the escalation of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is the “most serious concern", and called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to exercise restraint and give up military methods of conducting affairs.


15.45 - Turkic Council demands immediate withdrawal of Armenian forces from Karabakh

The Secretary General of the Turkic Council Baghdad Amreyev demanded "an immediate, unconditional and full withdrawal of the armed forces of Armenia from all occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan" on Monday. The council said it is invoking resolutions of the U.N. Security Council adopted in 1993.

Turkic Council expressed "deep concern on the military confrontation in the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan,"  in the same statement.

Amreyev extends his condolences to the Azerbaijani people over loss of lives and wishes a speedy recovery of the injured.

The Council is combined by five Turkic members states, including Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.


15:05 - Karabakh lost 59, Azerbaijan lost at least 11, local reports suggest

The death toll in the clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh has risen to 70, with a total of 59 people have been killed on the Armenian side while Azerbaijan lost 11, jam-news.net, a platform gathers expertise around the Caucasus, said.

A new official list of names of 28 victims of military clashes on September 28 has been published in Karabakh, according to jam-news.net.


14:05 – Armenia says committed to peaceful resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Armenia said on Monday it was seeking a peaceful solution to its conflict with Azerbaijan.

“We have been and remain committed to peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Twitter.

“What we have unfortunately been dealing with is absolutely maximalist position of Azerbaijan which denies any recognition of interest and concerns of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and its authorities and the people of Armenia."


13:50 – Turkish cybersecurity expert posts online video of Azerbaijani rocket barrages
Turkish cybersecurity expert Ali Keskin posted a video on Twitter purportedly showing Azerbaijani forces firing a barrage of rockets on Armenian military positions.

The video uploaded on Monday shows four rocket launchers delivering their payload from a field, to the sound of an air siren.


13:00 – Azerbaijani government denies Turkey sent Syrian mercenaries to Azerbaijan

An aide to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev denied Armenia’s accusation that Turkey had sent Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan since new clashes began in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Yeni Şafak reported.

"Rumours of militants from Syria allegedly being redeployed to Azerbaijan is another provocation by the Armenian side and complete nonsense," Khikmet Gadzhiev said on Monday.

The Armenian Defence Ministry said on Sunday that Turkey had sent Syrian mercenaries to bolster Azerbaijani forces against Armenian separatists and that they were taking part in the fighting.


12:30 – New Azerbaijan-Armenian clashes likely ‘orchestrated’ by Turkey - Israeli analyst

The Turkish government likely ‘orchestrated’ the renewed violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Seth Frantzman, a Jerusalem Post columnist and regional analyst, said on Sunday.

“The entire conflict in Karabakh was likely planned or pushed by Ankara to create a new crisis so the ruling party can invade another country, after having invaded Syria, Iraq and Libya,” he said in a series of Twitter posts.

Frantzman pointed to content by pro-government Turkish news sources, such as Daily Sabah and Yeni Şafak, to highlight Ankara’s moves to escalate the dispute.

“We can see how it was orchestrated by Ankara by reading the propaganda pro-government media there; orchestrated first through threatening Armenia, then military flights, then claims of “PKK”,” he said. “This is part of the narrative Ankara always puts forward.”


12:15 – Turkish lira hits record low after Azerbaijan-Armenia clashes erupt

Turkey’s lira hit an all-time low against the dollar after the country became embroiled in a latest regional conflict, this time between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The lira fell to as low as 7.8 per dollar in Asia in early morning. It traded down 1 percent at 7.734 at 10:34 a.m. local time in Istanbul.


11:40 – ICRC calls on the sides to spare civilians
The International Committee of the Red Cross called on all sides involved in the violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh region to take “all measures necessary” to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians caught in the cross-fire.

 “We reiterate our commitment to assist and support those affected by this escalation as well as to act as a neutral intermediary,” ICRC regional director Martin Schüepp said in a written ICRC statement on Sunday. “We urge the sides to exercise all the efforts possible at all times to abide by the principles of the international humanitarian law.”


10:30 Foreign governments call for swift end to clashes

The United States, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the European Union and United Nations urged a swift end to hostilities on Sunday.

President Donald Trump said the United States was taking the fighting seriously.

“We’re looking at it very strongly,” Reuters cited him as telling reporters. “We have a lot of good relationships in that area. We’ll see if we can stop it.”

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his "deep concern" and "strongly called for an immediate end to hostilities", AFP said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the military flareup with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and said the fighting should end. Pashinyan called on the international community to prevent Turkey’s involvement in the clashes.

"We are on the brink of a full-scale war in the South Caucasus," Pashinyan warned.

Turkey is a close political ally of Azerbaijan and has deployed fresh arms to the country including F-16 fighter jets.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday that Armenia was "the biggest threat to peace in the region" and that Turkey would “increasingly continue” its solidarity with Baku.


09:45 – Armenia ‘deploying terrorist groups’ to occupied Azerbaijani territories - Azerbaijani envoy
Armenia is arming and deploying militant groups, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), to occupied territories of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Turkey Khazar Ibrahim told state-run Anadolu agency in an interview.

"They (Armenia) adopted a new national security strategy which specifically indicated that they want to occupy new territories of Azerbaijan," he said. “Within the last several months, Armenia started a volunteer programme gathering the people, providing them with training, including women."


09:40 – Azerbaijan issues final warning to Armenia
Azerbaijan issued a final warning to Armenia on Monday, threatening to retaliate with “adequate retaliatory measures” if forces fighting for Karabakh did not halt their attacks, Anadolu news agency said.

The Azerbaijani city of Terter has been under fire from Armenian forces since Monday morning, Anadolu cited Baku’s Defence Ministry as saying in a statement.