Adds Turkish defence minister’s comment
ANKARA, Oct 9 (Reuters) – Turkey said on Friday efforts by France, the United States and Russia to end violence between Azeri and Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh were bound to fail unless they ensured a withdrawal of Armenian forces from the enclave.
As the region’s deadliest battles for more than 25 years raged, Russia was set to host talks with the Azeri and Armenian foreign ministers on Friday, a day after France, Russia and the United States discussed the conflict in Geneva.
Turkey condemns what it calls Armenian occupation of Azeri lands in Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway, ethnic Armenian-run enclave within Azerbaijan, and vows full solidarity with its ethnic kin in Azerbaijan.
Ankara has repeatedly criticised efforts by the Minsk group – led by France, Russia and the United States – to achieve a ceasefire in the region, saying the group has done nothing in nearly 30 years of intermittent talks.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Ankara wanted a diplomatic solution, but any effort by the Minsk group that did not call for the withdrawal of Armenia’s forces was bound to fail.
“If they’re calling only for a ceasefire, if they’re working only towards a ceasefire, it will be nothing more than a repeat of what went on for the last 30 years or so,” Kalin told Al Jazeera in an interview.
“It is almost certain to fail if it doesn’t also involve a detailed plan to end the occupation.”
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said Azerbaijan’s offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh would not stop until Armenia withdrew its own forces and other fighters he said it had brought to the region.
“Until the occupation is over, until the terrorists and mercenaries are taken out of there, nobody should expect our Azeri brothers to stop,” Akar said in a statement.
Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan under international law, but it is populated and governed by ethnic Armenians.
The latest fighting in the decades-old crisis has raised fears that Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in the Syrian and Libyan conflicts as well, will be dragged in.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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