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Pashinian Wants Armenian Policy Response To ‘Turkish Threat’


Armenia -- Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian speaks at a cabinet meeting in Yerevan, July 23, 2020.

Armenia needs to review its foreign and security policies in response to Turkey’s increasingly “aggressive” support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Thursday.

Echoing statements by other Armenian officials, Pashinian charged that Ankara has sought to heighten tensions in the conflict zone by blaming Yerevan for this month’s deadly hostilities on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and promising military aid to Baku.

“The only country that attempted to provoke greater violence, rather than calm the situation down, [during the flare-up] was Turkey,” he said at the start of a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan.

“Given that country’s destabilizing and aggressive policy towards a number of neighboring regions and traditional anti-Armenian policy, evidenced by its justification of the [1915] Armenian genocide, Turkey’s stance did not come as a surprise,” he said. “But its increased aggressiveness is creating the need for a certain revision of our policy, including in terms of the scale of our participation in international formats for curbing Turkey’s aggressiveness.”

Pashinian did not specify whether he thinks Armenia should forge even closer military ties with Russia, its main ally, or step up security cooperation with the West.But he did single out Russia’s role in international efforts to stop the Armenian-Azerbaijani border clashes that broke out on July 17.

Azerbaijan -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev walk before a meeting in Baku, October 14, 2019
Azerbaijan -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev walk before a meeting in Baku, October 14, 2019

The deadly clashes provoked last week a bitter war of words between Ankara and Yerevan, with the two sides accusing each other of trying to destabilize the South Caucasus. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish leaders blamed Armenia for the violence that left at least 17 soldiers dead. For its part, the Armenian Foreign Ministry branded Turkey a “security threat to Armenia and the region.”

Turkey’s National Security Council condemned the Armenian “aggression” on Wednesday in a statement issued after a meeting chaired by Erdogan. It said Ankara “will support any decision by Azerbaijan.”

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar vowed on July 16 that Armenia will be “brought to account” for its “attack” on Azerbaijan. He did not elaborate.

Akar spoke at a meeting with a visiting Azerbaijani military delegation headed by Deputy Defense Minister Ramiz Tahirov. The delegation also met with Ismail Demir, the head of a state body overseeing the Turkish defense industry. Demir tweeted afterwards that Ankara is ready to provide Baku with military drones and missiles.

Successive Turkish governments have lent Azerbaijan full support throughout the Karabakh conflict, reflecting close ethnic and cultural ties between the two Turkic nations. They have made the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia conditional on a Karabakh settlement acceptable to Baku.

Armenia, which is allied to Russia politically and militarily, has always rejected this precondition.

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