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Fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces continued in recent days with a ceasefire seeming unlikely on Tuesday, despite calls from the international community.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu openly questioned the usefulness of a ceasefire as he visited Baku, hitting out at foreign actors: “The international community once again calls for a ceasefire. What will happen afterwards, will Armenia be led to withdraw immediately from Azerbaijani territories?”
His visit came after Paris, Moscow and Washington, mediators in the region since the 1990s, the day before described the flare-up of violence as “an unacceptable threat to the stability of the region”.
The three countries chair the Minsk Group of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) which, since 1992, has aimed to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.
But Cavusoglu hit back saying: “Can you come up with a solution? No, so it’s just the same calls for the last 30 years.”
In a statement to Euronews, spokeswoman for Armenia’s foreign affairs ministry, Anna Naghdalyan, labelled Turkey “the instigator of this large-scale violence in our region” and said it was “directly involved in planning and implementing military plans of Azerbaijan”.
“Turkey is encouraging Azerbaijan not to comply with the calls of the OSCE Minsk Group co-Chairs and cease hostilities. The current visit of the Turkish Foreign Minister serves this purpose,” she said.
While Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement that during a meeting of security services “the current situation in the counter-offensive operation was analysed and instructions were given to continue the planned, purposeful, and consistent destruction of the enemy forces.
“The Minister of Defence instructed the troops to take vital important and necessary activities in the liberated territories.”
The latest flare-up of violence is one of the worst observed in recent years, with dozens on both sides killed in the fighting.
Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said Armenia’s withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh is the sole condition for a cessation of hostilities.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that “a cease-fire can be established only if Turkey is removed from the South Caucasus.”
NATO member Turkey has denied sending weapons or foreign fighters but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Ankara will stand by Azerbaijan until it reaches “victory”.
The former Soviet states of Azerbaijan and Armenia fought a bloody war over the mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s.
Thousands were killed on both sides. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced.
The war ended with a truce in 1994, although there has been sporadic violence since as the dispute remains unresolved.
Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠