Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict dominates Turkey's agenda - blog - Sept. 27

Fighting broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Sunday morning around the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in a televised address to the nation that there were losses among the Azerbaijani forces and the civilian population as a result of the Armenian bombardment.

Both countries declared martial law later in the day, and made statements holding each other responsible for the conflict. 

The mostly mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region lies 50 kilometres from the Armenian border. Local soldiers backed by Armenia also occupy some Azerbaijani territory outside the region.

The deadliest fighting in years between Armenia and Azerbaijan broke out in the northwestern Tovuz border region in July, leaving 16 people from both sides dead.

(All times local, GMT+3)

00:20 - Karabakh, Armenia allege Turkish involvement in conflict

Leader of the Nagorno Karabakh region Arayik Harutyunyan told reporters that “not only Azerbaijan, but also Turkey is fighting with us.”

Harutyunyan alleged the use of “modern Turkish weapons” in Azerbaijan’s operation that the Turkic country’s officials say was a response to Armenian provocation.

There are unconfirmed reports of Turkish F-16 fighter jets being used in the conflict.

Meanwhile, Armenian Defence Ministry said the country had “facts about participation of mercenaries in the clashes against Karabakh from Azerbaijan,” Russian news agency Interfax reported.

23:30 - Ruling AKP deputy accuses opposition of siding with Armenia

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker Selman Özboyacı called former Ambassador and current CHP deputy Ünal Çeviköz a member of “the Armenia front” upon his comments about alleged Turkish military involvement in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“Unfortunately there are rumours that since July, Turkey has been transferring weapons and certain militia and jihadist groups to Azerbaijan,” Çeviköz had said in a live discussion programme on HaberTürk.

23:00 - United States condemns violence, warns of external parties

The United States are "alarmed" by reports of large scale military action, U.S. State Department  said in a statement and urged both Armenia and Azerbaijan to cease hostilities immediately on Sunday afternoon local time.

The statement on the escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan urged both sides to work with the Minsk Group.

The State Department also said that it "condemns in the strongest terms this escalation of violence," without laying any blame on either side. However, it warned against interventions by any "external parties" and said it "believes participation in the escalating violence by external parties would be deeply unhelpful and only exacerbate regional tensions."

State Department Azerbaijan Armenia

22:45 - Ukrainian Airlines halt flights to Armenia

According to private, pro-government Turkish news agency IHA, Ukrainian Airlines temporarily have halted all flights to the country due to the clashes broke early on Sunday between Armenia and Azerbaijan. 

22:35 - Deputy Defense Minister of Karabakh reports 16 people dead

Sixteen people died and more than 100 were injured in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict on Sunday, said Karabakh's Defence Ministry in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan reported 14 wounded among the civilian population, citing Azerbaijani victims during the conflict. President Ilham Aliyev said that there were victims, expressed condolences, same report wrote.

22:30 - U.N. condemns use of force in Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is “extremely concerned over the fresh resumption of hostilities along the line of contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone,” Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Sunday evening.
The U.N. Secretary-General “condemns the use of force and regrets the loss of life and the toll on the civilian population,” the statement said.
Guterres, strongly calling  on both parties to “immediately stop fighting, de-escalate tensions and return to meaningful negotiations without delay,” will be speaking to both Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

22:00 - Turkish opposition deputy says Turkey only Turkic state to announce support for Azerbaijan

No Turkic republic has expressed support for Azerbaijan besides Turkey regarding Sunday’clashes, Mustafa Balbay, a journalist and a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), said in a debate program on news network HaberTürk.

“I looked, and I followed up with an Azeri journalist to be sure,” Balbay said. “No Central Asian country even said they respect Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.”

“This is, no offence, a failure for Turkey,” the lawmaker said, referring to ongoing Russian influence over the region and Turkic countries, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

“I do not say we should be their big brother,” he continued. “But in today’s reality, if there is an Arab league, a Slav league, a Pax Americana, then Turkey should have been strong enough to handle diplomatic organisation of the Turkic Council.”

19:30 - Pakistan calls on Armenia to ‘stop military action’

Pakistan is “deeply concerned on the deteriorating security situation in Nagorno-Karabakh region,” and belileves “intensive shelling by Armenian forces” could compromise peace and security for the entire region, a statement by the country’s Defence Ministry said on Sunday evening.

“Armenia must stop its military action to avoid further escalation,” the statement said, while expressing support for Azerbaijan’s “right of self-defence.”

A Twitter account that releases statements in Turkish from the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan repeated Pakistan’s support, while Khan’s official account did not post on the matter.

18:40 - Turkish FM Çavuşoğlu says Armenia 'will get its response'

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Sunday announced that he had spoken with his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov to discuss Sunday’s escalation in the Azerbaijan-Armenia tensions.

“Armenia believes it will benefit from insolubility,” Çavuşoğlu said. “This time they get its response on the field. We stand by Dear Azerbaijan in the field and at the table.”

17:50 - Azerbaijan announces taking control of six villages

Azerbaijan has “saved from occupation” settlements that were of strategic importance, Hikmet Hajiyev, assistant of the president of Azerbaijan, was cited by Turkish daily Star as saying.

“Armenia doesn’t favour a diplomatic solution,” Hajiyev said.

Meanwhile Azerbaijani Defence Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Anar Eyvazov  told reporters that four villages in the Fizuli region and two others in Jabrayil district had come under control of Azerbaijani army forces.

According to the spokesman, the Azerbaijani army achieved control on several strategic hills as well.

15:00 - Azerbaijani president confident that ‘counter-offensive will end occupation’

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said the armed forces’ operation had been successful, delivering a “severe blow upon the enemy’s military manpower and equipment,” and “liberating several occupied settlements,” in a Security Council meeting on Sunday, following the morning’s clashes with Armenian forces at the border.

“I am confident that our successful counter-offensive will end the occupation!” Aliyev said. “It will put an end to injustice! It will end the occupation that has lasted for nearly 30 years!”

14:00 - Armenia biggest threat to peace in Caucasus - Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday that Armenia was "the biggest threat to peace in the region", following clashes between Armenian and Azeri forces over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

"The international community, which could not give a necessary and sufficient response to Armenia's provocative aggression, once again shows its double standards," Erdoğan said on Twitter, adding that Turkey will “increasingly continue” its solidarity with Baku.

He also called on Armenia’s people to take control of their future against “leadership that is dragging them to catastrophe and those using it like puppets”.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoğlu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the recent clashes by phone on Sunday, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said. Russia has been a mediator in the dispute.

“The biggest obstacle to peace and stability in the Caucasus is the hostile stance of Armenia and it must immediately turn back from this hostility that will send the region into fire,” Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said.

"Armenia is not only a threat to Azerbaijan, but a remorseless terrorist state in terms of the peace of the whole region," Turkish parliamentary speaker Mustafa Şentop said.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın also took to Twitter to condemn Armenia. “Armenia has violated the ceasefire by attacking civilian settlements ... the international community must immediately say stop to this dangerous provocation.”

Meanwhile, leaders of Turkish opposition parties, including the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP)Good Party and Future Party, have condemned Armenia for what they said were provocations against Azerbaijan.

Ekrem İmamoğlu, the opposition mayor of Turkey's financial and cultural hub of Istanbul, said he wished for peace and stability in the region.

İbrahim Karagül, the chief editor of the Turkish pro-government Islamist daily Yeni Şafak, called for the bombardment of Armenia in retaliation to Sunday's attacks.

"A missile must accidentally fall exactly on the centre of Yerevan!" he said.

Later on Sunday, Erdoğan held a phone call with Aliyev and the Turkish president said that “Turkey stands with its Azeri brothers, in the however way needed,” according to Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Turkey Hazar Ibrahim.