Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict on Nagorno-Karabakh and Turkey’s role

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (left) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet during the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016. (Photo: Azerbaijani Presidential Press Service)

(RAHNUMA) On early Sunday, September 27th, Armenian Armed Forces started an intense shelling of Azerbaijan’s defense positions and civilian settlements with large-caliber artillery and rockets in blatant violation of the ceasefire as well as the international law, along the Line of Contact in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenian armed forces targeted major cities in Azerbaijan and caused more than 30 deaths among the civilian population, leaving 150 people wounded so far. This constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law. Armenia also targets the gas and oil pipelines threatening the energy security of a wider region including Europe.

Azerbaijan launched a counter operation to protect its population and restore its territorial integrity by invoking its inherent right of self-defense enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter. Azerbaijan is conducting its operations within its internationally recognized borders, on its own territory, which has been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades. Azerbaijan has the moral and legal high ground in this conflict.

In fact, Armenia does not want a peaceful negotiated settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Armenia tries to preserve the status quo and consolidate its occupation. That is why Armenia has done everything to sabotage the negotiations under the auspices of the Minsk Group.

Armenian occupation has caused profound human suffering, displacing a million Azerbaijanis. Armenia has been using the stalemate to change the demographic composition of the occupied Azerbaijani territories by resettling ethnic Armenians from Syria and Lebanon in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Facing the prospect of forced withdrawal from the territories it occupied, Armenian leadership is becoming more hysterical in its reactions each day. Armenian allegations about Turkey’s involvement in the field and about the fighters from outside are baseless and irrational. Both Azerbaijan and the relevant authorities in Turkey totally and unequivocally rejected these Armenian fabrications. Armenian disinformation campaign aims to divert attention away from its illegal occupation and portray Armenia as the victim.

Turkey gives and will continue to give strong political and moral support to Azerbaijan. However, Turkey is not a party to this conflict and is not present on the battleground. Turkey does not want any conflict and war just across its borders. But, the peace needed is one that is fair.

Turkey would like to see a negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and in accordance with international law. The key to a lasting and viable settlement is the fulfillment of the UN Security Council resolutions and OSCE decisions.

The international community must pressure Armenia to resume sincere, substantive, and result-oriented negotiations in good faith. Remaining equidistant to both sides regardless of who the occupier is not a healthy understanding of impartiality, it rewards the aggressor.

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