Oct 2, 2020 - World

Turkey's Erdoğan opposes ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh

Soldiers of the Karabakh Defense Army. Photo: Narek Aleksanyan/AFP via Getty

Calls for an unconditional ceasefire in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh have been rejected by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and by Turkey — which has reportedly sent weapons and even Syrian mercenaries to aid its ally Azerbaijan.

Why it matters: The risk of a full-fledged war appears to be growing after five days of clashes and more than 100 deaths. Armenia claims it shot down an Azeri drone Thursday night near its capital, Yerevan.

What they're saying: President Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin — the "Minsk Group" co-chairs — released a joint statement Thursday calling for an "immediate cessation of hostilities.”

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan replied: "Given that the USA, Russia and France have neglected this problem for nearly 30 years, it is unacceptable that they are involved in a search for a ceasefire.”
  • Armenia has raged over Turkey's intervention and also withdrawn its ambassador from Israel. As Axios' Barak Ravid scooped, Azerbaijan is using Israeli weapons including “kamikaze drones” in the fighting.
  • Armenia has a powerful military ally in Russia. But Russia also has deep ties to Azerbaijan and is trying to maintain its mediator role.

What to watch: Erdoğan’s involvement in the conflict is a “wildcard,” the International Crisis Group’s Olesya Vartanyan told the “Global Dispatches” podcast, as it's unclear just how far he’s willing to push things.

  • It's also now "much harder to mediate because there’s nothing to offer through talks — all negotiations have broken down," she says, including after previous skirmishes in July.

Background: The mountainous region of around 150,000 people is populated mainly by ethnic Armenians but lies within the borders of Azerbaijan. The countries have both claimed the territory since the collapse of the Soviet Union, fought a war over it from 1992-1994, and stood on the precipice of further conflict since.

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