Turkish Defence Minister says Armenia will ‘pay for what it did’

Turkish National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar condemned Armenia for the recent military action at its border with Azerbaijan, in a press briefing on Thursday following a meeting with Azerbaijani officials.

Armenia will be “buried under their own plot, drown in it, and will absolutely pay for what they did,” Akar was cited by state-run Anadolu Agency as saying.

Clashes broke out between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces at the border near Armenia’s Tavush and Azerbaijan’s Tovuz provinces on Sunday. Both countries have accused each other of provoking violence.

“The pain of Azerbaijan Turks is our pain,” Akar said. “We stand with the valiant people of Azerbaijan in every struggle they have.”

Akar said Azerbaijan and Turkey are “two countries, one nation,” who stand together in language, religion, history, joy, sorrow and pride. “This is an attempt that is bigger than what Armenians can handle,” the minister said. “They will pay for it.”

Azerbaijan’s Deputy Defence Minister and Air Force Commander Ramiz Tahirov was leading a military delegation who arrived in Ankara for meetings.

Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Yaşar Güler, Land Forces Commander Ümit Dündar, Air Force Commander Hasan Küçükakyüz and Navy Commander Adnan Özbal were present in the meeting with Akar as well.

Akar said both the ministry and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had been monitoring the developments closely. On Tuesday, Erdoğan called the events at the border “a deliberate attack directly on Azerbaijan.”

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, a majority-Armenian region between the two countries that broke away from Azerbaijan in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The recent clashes have differed from the two neighbours’ usual, as they were not at the disputed region. Azerbaijan announced that 10 soldiers and one general were killed in the clashes, while Armenia reported two soldiers and two officers dying.

Turkey and the Turkish army will “do whatever we need to, today and tomorrow like we did in the past,” Akar said. “Have no doubt.”