IZMIR, Turkey

The World Azerbaijanis Congress head on Tuesday thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for supporting Azerbaijan’s “rightful cause.”

“President Erdogan has always been in solidarity with Azerbaijan, and voiced Azerbaijan’s rightful cause in every field, at the highest level. I thank him very much on behalf of the World Azerbaijanis Congress,” the Swedish-based congress headed by Asif Kurban said in a statement.

Azerbaijan launched a “patriotic war” to liberate its occupied lands after attacks on civilians, Kurban said, adding that Turkey’s moral and political support to Azerbaijan was at the highest level during the 44-day war.

He also welcomed the Turkish parliament’s approval to a government motion to send its troops on one-year peacekeeping mission in Azerbaijan’s Upper Karabakh.

Kurban further expressed gratitude to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, and “every single one of Turkish people” for their support to Azerbaijan.

Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated humanitarian cease-fire agreements.

During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from Armenian occupation.

On Nov. 10, the two countries signed a Russia-brokered agreement to end fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.

The truce is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces have been withdrawing as the agreement specified.

The Turkish leadership also welcomed the truce, terming it a “great victory” for Azerbaijan.

Turkey and Russia have since signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a joint Turkish-Russian center to monitor the Karabakh peace deal.

*Writing by Merve Gül Aydogan in Ankara

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