Erdogan backs Azerbaijan after Nagorno-Karabakh attack

France requested a UN Security Council meeting while US plans talks on fighting

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the 78th session of the UN General Assembly. EPA
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Turkey supports Azerbaijan in its efforts to protect its territorial sovereignty, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, after Baku launched a military operation in the ethnic Armenian separatist enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Turkish leader, a staunch supporter of Azerbaijan, emphasised the former Soviet republic's right to protect its sovereign territory and said any attempt to establish an alternative status for the region was unacceptable.

“We expect a comprehensive peace agreement to be signed between the two countries as soon as possible and promises to be quickly fulfilled,” Mr Erdogan said.

“Everybody has the right to coexist on the Azerbaijan soil, including the Armenians and that should be our primary goal … We are moving together with Azerbaijan under the motto that we are two nations, one state.”

His comments came as France called for an urgent Security Council meeting and the US said it was reaching out diplomatically after Azerbaijan launched the military operation.

Both sides reported shelling as violence erupted in the territory, over which Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a 44-day war in 2020.

This operation is “illegal, unjustifiable and unacceptable”, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told reporters.

“I would like to emphasise that we hold Azerbaijan responsible for the fate of Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh,” Ms Colonna said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meanwhile, called for an immediate end to hostilities and for direct dialogue.

Mr Blinken warned that Azerbaijan’s “unacceptable” military actions could worsen the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The State Department said Mr Blinken spoke to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev to urge him to stop military action in Nagorno-Karabakh and "de-escalate the situation."

"The Secretary emphasised that there is no military solution and that the parties must resume dialogue to resolve outstanding differences between Baku and ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh," the department said.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held talks on Tuesday by phone with Mr Blinken and French President Emmanuel Macron, a representative told AFP in Yerevan.

France and the US, which both have large Armenian diasporas, have been active on the issue of Karabakh.

Mr Blinken has led three rounds of peace talks with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers.

UN Human Rights chief Volker Turk expressed concern over developments on the ground in particular the impact of renewed use of armed force on civilians.

"It is absolutely critical that Azerbaijan and Armenia return to the peace process and work on an agreement grounded in human rights. This is more urgent than ever," Mr Turk said.

During his speech to the UN, the recently re-elected Mr Erdogan also vowed to increase his diplomatic efforts to end the war in Ukraine.

“We have been endeavouring to keep both our Russian and Ukrainian friends around the table with a thesis that war will have no winners and peace will have no losers,” Mr Erdogan said.

“We will step up our efforts to end the war through diplomacy and dialogue on the basis of Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity.”

Mr Erdogan echoed UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres's statement that institutions established after the Second World War no longer reflect today's world.

“The Security Council has ceased to be the guarantor of world security and has become a battleground for the political strategies of only five countries,” he said, calling for a multinational system that benefits all of humanity.

Updated: September 20, 2023, 7:35 AM