ANKARA, September 22. /TASS/. Azerbaijan’s operation in Nagorno-Karabakh was the consequence of Armenia not doing what it promised under previously reached agreements, Turkish Defense Minister Yasar Guler told the Milliyet newspaper.
“Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement following the previous 44-day operation. And it must abide by its terms. Terrorists have settled there [in Nagorno-Karabakh]. They are illegally mining there. They did not listen to the warnings, blocked the roads. For the last 10-15 days they have been warned constantly to stop, but nothing has changed. And in the end, Azerbaijan responded. After one day [of the operation] they said they would surrender, give up their weapons and leave,” the minister said.
According to him, “Russia declared that all land [in Nagorno-Karabakh] belongs to Azerbaijan.” He opined that the anti-terrorist operation launched by Baku “will be a step towards long-term peace.” “Especially if Armenia properly fulfills its obligations and the provisions of the peace agreement are implemented as soon as possible. Then an atmosphere of peace and tranquility will be established in the region,” Guler concluded.
Commenting on the recent military exercises between Armenia and the United States, the minister said that he “does not consider this event to be of any particular importance.” However, according to him, the participation of “even 25 people in the exercises can be misunderstood in the current tensions,” so “it would be better for the sides to act more cautiously.”
On September 19, tensions flared up again in Nagorno-Karabakh. Baku announced it was launching what it described as “local anti-terrorist measures” and demanded the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the region. Yerevan, in turn, said there were no Armenian forces in Karabakh, calling what was happening “an act of large-scale aggression.” Residents of the Armenian capital took to the streets to protest outside the Armenian government building, blaming the country’s leadership and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan for the situation.
Russia called on the conflicting sides to prevent civilian casualties and return to a diplomatic solution. On September 20, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry announced that an agreement had been reached in coordination with the Russian peacekeeping contingent to suspend the anti-terrorist operation in Nagorno-Karabakh as of 12:00 p.m. Moscow time. On September 21, representatives of Baku and the Armenian population of Karabakh met in the Azerbaijani city of Yevlakh “to discuss reintegration issues.”