Erdogan's visit strongly condemned by Armenia came a day after he met with U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels.
Upon his arrival in Baku Erdogan traveled to the decimated town of Fizuli to the southeast of Nagorno-Karabakh which Azerbaijani forces recaptured last autumn from ethnic Armenian forces that had controlled it since the early 1990s.
RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service reported that Erdogan was met in Fizuli by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his wife. They then traveled into Azerbaijani-controlled territory within Nagorno-Karabakh to visit the strategic town of Shushi (Shusha).
Azerbaijani forces seized the mountain fortress town overlooking the Karabakh capital Stepanakert in early November just days before Russia brokered a ceasefire that stopped the fighting.
Erdogan was honored there with an official greeting ceremony. Afterward, he and Aliyev signed a document called the Shusha Declaration on Allied Relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey.
Turkey provided Azerbaijan with both diplomatic and military support during the recent conflict. Aliyev was reported to again thank Ankara for that support at a joint news briefing in Shushi. He described Erdogan’s visit as historic.
According to the Turkish daily Sabah, Erdogan said, for his part, that “Karabakh has returned to its owners” and announced plans to open a Turkish consulate in Shushi.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry condemned Aliyev’s and Erdogan’s visit to Shushi as a “provocation against regional peace and security.”
“It is noteworthy that this visit was preceded by the destruction of the religious, historical and cultural heritage of the forcibly displaced indigenous Armenian population, including the desecration of [Shushi’s] St. Holy Savior Ghazanchetsots Cathedral targeted by the Turkish-Azerbaijani forces during and after the war against Artsakh,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Restoration of the rights of the Armenians of Artsakh (Karabakh), which includes de-occupation of the territories of the Republic of Artsakh and safe return of the displaced population, is essential for overcoming the Turkish-Azerbaijani genocidal threat against the Armenian people,” it said.