Turkey and Azerbaijan criticized the United States, Russia and France on Wednesday for failing to achieve decisive progress in their protracted efforts to broker a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Visiting Baku, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also reaffirmed his country’s unconditional support for Azerbaijan in the dispute and offered Turkish mediation in its resolution.
“If the OSCE Minsk Group is unable to achieve any results, then it is time for the international community to ask itself why 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory remains occupied,” Davutoglu told a joint news conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov.
Mammadyarov echoed the criticism of the international mediators. “Azerbaijan is dissatisfied with the work of the OSCE Minsk Group and there are objective reasons for that,” he said. “We see no progress and want the conflict’s resolution to start with the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories.”
Mammadyarov spoke less than a week after holding fresh talks with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian. They met in Vienna in the presence of the American, French and Russian diplomats co-heading the Minsk Group.
“As you know, Turkey is also a member of the Minsk Group, and it is ready to support the peace process,” said Mammadyarov. “It is important that the problem be solved as soon as possible and within the framework of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. Ankara is always ready to provide assistance to the co-chairing countries and step up its efforts in this direction.”
Armenia was quick to reject any Turkish involvement in the Karabakh peace process. “If Turkey is really interested in a quick resolution of the Karabakh-Azerbaijan conflict it should take one simple step: not to meddle in the settlement process,” Eduard Sharmazanov, the spokesman for the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, said in a statement.
Armenian leaders have repeatedly said before that Turkey cannot act as an honest broker because it has openly sided with Azerbaijan in the unresolved conflict. They appear to have toughened this stance since the collapse of the 2008-2009 Turkish-Armenian rapprochement. Ankara and Yerevan signed two agreements at the time on the establishment of diplomatic relations between them and the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border. The Turkish government subsequently made their parliamentary ratification conditional on a Karabakh settlement acceptable to Baku.
The Karabakh issue was likely to be on the agenda of Davutoglu’s separate talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev held on Wednesday. Aliyev’s press office said the two men noted “the successful development of friendly and fraternal relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey in all areas.”
Davutoglu arrived in Baku five days after the Turkish and Azerbaijani armies reportedly began joint military exercises in Azerbaijan. In Mammadyarov’s words, the two Turkic allies are “closely cooperating” on regional security.