Armenia accused Turkey of trying to heighten tensions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone on Monday after Ankara blamed Yerevan for the latest deadly skirmishes on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry decried “yet another manifestation of Armenia's aggressive nationalism” in a statement issued late on Sunday hours after the outbreak of heavy fighting there. It accused Armenia of continuing to occupy Azerbaijani territory and hampering the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“Turkey will continue, with all its capacity, to stand by Azerbaijan in its struggle to protect its territorial integrity,” added the statement added.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry dismissed these “utterly false and misleading” claims and charged that the Turkish government is trying to “instigate instability in our region.”
“This provocative attitude by Turkey and its groundless accusations against Armenia attest to the fact that this country has been acting not as a member of the OSCE Minsk Group but as a party involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” read a ministry statement. “This fact makes it even more impossible for Turkey to play any role in issues related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within international and particularly the OSCE framework.”
Successive Turkish governments have lent Azerbaijan full and unconditional support throughout the Karabakh conflict. They have made the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia conditional on a Karabakh settlement acceptable to Baku.
Armenia has always rejected this precondition. It has forged close military ties with Russia to counter what many Armenians see as a serious security threat from Turkey. From Yerevan’s perspective, the presence of thousands of Russian troops in Armenia precludes Turkey’s direct military intervention on Azerbaijan’s side.
Incidentally, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone on Monday. Their press offices did not list the Karabakh dispute among the issues discussed by the two leaders.