Turkey has offered its full support to Azerbaijan and accused Armenia of violating international law following clashes between the two countries.
“We strongly condemn the Armenian attack that caused civilian losses and that is a clear violation of international law. Armenia has shown once again that it is the biggest obstacle in the face of peace and stability in the region,” read a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement on Sept. 27.
“Azerbaijan will use its right to self defense to protect its people and territorial integrity. Turkey fully supports Azerbaijan. We’ll stand with it anyway it wishes,” it also said, while calling on the international community to stand with Azerbaijan.
Tensions flared between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Sept. 27 over clashes in which Yerevan said Azeri forces shelled the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh and Baku accused Armenian forces of shelling Azeri military and civilian positions.
Casualties were unclear but Armenia’s defense ministry said an unspecified number of civilians had been killed by Azerbaijan’s forces.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on Armenia’s people to take hold of their future against “leadership that is dragging them to catastrophe and those using it like puppets.”
“While I call on the Armenian people to take hold of their future against their leadership that is dragging them to catastrophe and those using it like puppets, we also call on the the entire world to stand with Azerbaijan in their battle against invasion and cruelty,” Erdoğan said on Twitter, adding that Turkey will “increasingly continue” its solidarity with Baku.
Erdoğan’s spokesperson İbrahim Kalın also condemned Armenia.
“We strongly condemn Armenia’s attack on Azerbaijan. Armenia has once again violated international law and shown that it has no interest in peace and stability,” Kalın tweeted on Sept. 27.
“Turkey stands in full solidarity with Azerbaijan and unreservedly supports its right to self-defense,” he added.
Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik had a harsher tone.
“Armenia’s massacre networks are committing crimes against humanity with these attacks,” Çelik said, while Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop branded Armenia “a terrorist state.”
Armenia and Azerbaijan have long been at odds over Azerbaijan’s breakaway, mainly ethnic Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh which declared independence during a conflict that broke out as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Though a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia frequently accuse each other of attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the separate Azeri-Armenian frontier.
Armenia’s defense ministry said its troops had destroyed three tanks and shot down two helicopters and three unmanned aerial vehicles in response to an attack on civilian targets including the regional capital of Stepanakert.
“Our response will be proportionate, and the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan bears full responsibility for the situation,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Armenian foreign ministry also said there would be an “appropriate military and political response.”
“We stay strong next to our army to protect our motherland from Azeri invasion,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote on Twitter.
The country also declared martial law and mobilised its male population.
Azerbaijan denied the Armenian defense ministry statement, saying it had “complete advantage over the enemy on the front.” Hikmet Hajiyev, senior adviser to Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, accused Armenian forces of launching “deliberate and targeted” attacks along the front line.
Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said Armenia had attacked civilian settlements and military positions along the “contact line,” a heavily-mined no-man’s-land that separates the Armenian-backed forces from Azeri troops in the region.
It said some civilians had been killed “as a result of the intensive shelling” by Armenia, and that Azerbaijan had taken retaliatory measures.
It said Azerbaijan’s army launched a “counter-offensive operation along the entire front to suppress the combat activity of the armed forces of Armenia and ensure the safety of the civilian population.”
Turkey calls on Armenia to end hostility towards Azerbaijan after clashes
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, meanwhile, urged Armenia to immediately cease hostility towards Azerbaijan that will “throw the region into fire.”
“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 on Sept. 27, adding that Ankara would support Baku with “all its resources.”
Çavuşoğlu, Lavrov discuss clashes
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu discussed the clashes on the phone with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
Earlier, Moscow called on both countries to immediately cease fire and begin negotiations to stabilize the situation.
Armenian PM warns against any Turkish involvement in conflict
Following various statements from Ankara, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan called on the international community to ensure that Turkey does not involve itself in the conflict.
Pashinyan said Turkey’s behaviour could have destructive consequences for the South Caucasus and neighbouring regions.