Senior Turkish and US officials on Monday discussed bilateral ties over the phone, as well as the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and recent attacks by the Syrian regime on the country’s last rebel stronghold.
Emphasizing the importance of seeking a diplomatic solution to the dispute between Baku and Yerevan on the region of Upper Karabakh, Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told US national security adviser Robert O’Brien that cease-fire violations by Armenia and its attacks on civilian populations were unacceptable and contrary to international law, according to a statement by the presidential office.
Kalin reiterated Turkey’s position that in order for there to be a permanent and sustainable solution, Armenia must withdraw completely from the territories occupied in and around Upper Karabakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh, that are internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory.
He also noted that the international community should take concrete steps to ensure the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan under the decisions of the UN Security Council and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Though Azerbaijan agreed to a fresh humanitarian cease-fire to exchange prisoners and bodies, Armenian forces broke the truce only minutes after it was supposed to take effect, the Azerbaijani leader said Monday, marking the third such truce broken by Armenia in less than a month.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
Four UN Security Council resolutions and two from the UN General Assembly as well as international organizations demand the “immediate complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces” from the occupied Azerbaijani territory.
In total, about 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory has been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.
A cease-fire, however, was agreed to in 1994.
World powers, including Russia, France, and the US, have called for a lasting cease-fire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku’s right to self-defense and demanded the withdrawal of Armenia’s occupying forces.
Expressing concern on increasing attacks by the Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime and its supporters on the war-torn country’s northeastern Idlib region, Kalin said that to prevent fresh crises from erupting, the latest truce reached on March 5 should be preserved and the political resolution process supported through ongoing efforts to draw up a new constitution.
On March 5, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin announced that they had reached a cease-fire agreement in Idlib between the opposing rebel and regime forces.
Several people were reportedly killed in a Russian airstrike on the Al-Sham Legion of the Syrian National Army in Idlib province on Monday, according to opposition sources.
In May 2017, Turkey, Russia and Iran announced that they had reached an agreement to establish a de-escalation zone in Idlib, as part of the Astana talks on Syria.
Despite subsequent understandings that were concluded for the cease-fire in Idlib, the regime forces and their allies continued their attacks on the region.
Since January 2019, the attacks have killed more than 1,800 civilians and displaced more than 1.94 million people who fled to relatively calm areas or close to the Turkish border.
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