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Ankara, Moscow Mum On Reported Erdogan Proposal On Karabakh


RUSSIA -- Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan shake hands during a news conference following their talks in Moscow, March 5, 2020

Ankara and Moscow have been tightlipped on a reported proposal by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a Turkish-Russian platform to work towards a settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh that would leave the United States and France – two other current mediators along with Russia – outside the process.

Citing Turkish diplomatic sources, CNN Turk reported on Monday that during his telephone conversation with President Vladimir Putin on November 7 Erdogan called on the Russian leader to create a joint working group to resolve the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Efforts in this direction may begin in the coming days, CNN Turk said, adding that a negotiating platform outside the OSCE Minsk Group could emerge.

Putin and Erdogan had a phone call amid reports of Azerbaijani forces closing in on a strategic Nagorno-Karabakh town of Shushi (Shusha).

Since then Azerbaijan claimed to have taken control of the hilltop town located on a main road some 10 kilometers south of the region’s main city, Stepanakert. Armenia, meanwhile, claimed that fierce battles for the town were still ongoing on November 9.

The Turkish television news channel suggested that as part of Erdogan’s proposal Azerbaijan would stop its offensive “after a victory in Shusha” and then talks would begin, while Armenia, in turn, “would gradually leave seven districts.”

Ankara has not officially commented on the report yet.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Putin, also refused to comment on the report. He told Russia’s TASS news agency on Monday that he had “nothing to add” to what the Kremlin press service had already reported on the topics of the November 7 telephone conversation between Putin and Erdogan.

“The Nagorno-Karabakh topic indeed was addressed,” Peskov said. “The Russian side is still exerting all possible efforts for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by political and diplomatic means.”

Armenia has not officially commented on the reported proposal by Erdogan either. But talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun), a source close to Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said: “This is a desperate attempt by Turkey to make a false impression on its putative involvement in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with the BBC on November 9 Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev reiterated his previous position that Baku would stop its offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh if Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian personally declared about Armenia’s withdrawing its troops from the region and presented a timetable.

“But, frankly speaking, with this prime minister of Armenia I don’t think that there is any possibility for peace,” Aliyev said.

Officials in Armenia have not yet commented on the Azerbaijani president’s statements.

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