Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has told his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar that they are concerned about reports that Syrian rebels are sent to Nagorno-Karabakh to fight.
In a phone call on Oct. 12, Shoigu and Akar discussed the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria and Libya.
“Reports on militants from terrorist organizations from the Middle East being transferred to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone are especially concerning for the Russian Defense Ministry,” the Russian Defense Ministry said, adding that the concern was conveyed to Akar.
“The Russian and Turkish defense ministers discussed issues of stabilizing the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and exchanged views on the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic and Libya,” TASS reported the ministry as saying.
On Oct. 13, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that calls for a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh are reasonable but must include an Armenian withdrawal from Azeri lands.
Speaking at a news conference with his Swedish counterpart Ann Linde in Ankara, Çavuşoğlu said a meeting including all 11 members of the Minsk group – formed to mediate the conflict and led by Russia, the United States and France – would help.
“We find international calls for a ceasefire reasonable. But we can only see the international community’s wish to solve this issue if there is a call for Armenia to withdraw from Azeri lands as well,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of violating a humanitarian ceasefire agreed three days ago over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, drawing warnings from international groups of a crisis.
Several world powers have called for an immediate end to the deadly fighting. But Turkey, which is not part of mediation, has staunchly backed Azerbaijan and repeated calls for Armenian withdraw from the region.
Turkey is one of the Minsk Group’s 11 members. Çavuşoğlu said he made the offer of talks to Linde since Sweden will take up the term presidency of the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), under which the Minsk group sits.
“It may be beneficial for us to hold a meeting as the Minsk group,” he said. “The Minsk co-chairs [Russia, the United States, France] should also report back to the Minsk group, and steps must be taken already.”