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Russia, Turkey Discuss De-Escalation In Karabakh Conflict Zone


RUSSIA -- Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrive for a meeting in Moscow, January 13, 2020

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Sunday Russia’s efforts to stop hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh and restart Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the two men agreed on the need for the conflicting parties to comply with a Russian-mediated ceasefire agreement reached early on Saturday. It said Lavrov told Cavusoglu that Moscow stands ready to “continue active mediation efforts” aimed at ultimately resolving the Karabakh conflict.

The ministry noted that the phone call took place “at the initiative of the Turkish side.”

The Russian RIA Novosti news agency cited an unnamed Turkish diplomatic source as saying that Cavusoglu asked Lavrov to “warn the Armenian side to observe the ceasefire in Karabakh.”

Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to halt the fighting and arrange the exchange of the dead during their foreign ministers’ trilateral talks with Lavrov held in Moscow. A joint statement issued by the three ministers also said Baku and Yerevan are “launching substantive talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to reach a peace deal as soon as possible.”

Commenting on the statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the ceasefire “cannot replace a lasting solution” and reaffirmed Ankara’s strong support for Azerbaijan in the Karabakh conflict. “Turkey will continue to stand by brotherly Azerbaijan on the ground and at the table,” it said.

Armenia says that Turkey is supporting Azerbaijan not only diplomatically but also militarily. An Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman again asserted on Sunday that Turkish F-16 fighter jets and attack drones have been involved in the large-scale hostilities along the Karabakh “line of contact” that broke out on September 27.

Also, Armenia as well as France have accused the Turks of recruiting mercenaries in Syria and sending them to fight in Karabakh. Russia and Iran have implicitly backed these claims.

Ankara and Baku deny the presence of Syrian Islamist militants in the Azerbaijani army ranks. They also maintain that Turkish military personnel have not participated in the Karabakh war.

During the fighting Azerbaijani leaders called for Turkish involvement in international efforts to end the Karabakh conflict, which have long been led by Russia, the United States and France. Yerevan has ruled out such a possibility.

The joint statement issued by Lavrov and his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts said in this regard that the conflicting parties “reaffirm that the format of the negotiating process is to remain unchanged.”

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