As tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues to escalate, Baku has clarified that Turkey is not a party to Azerbaijan’s conflict with Armenia and is only providing moral support to Baku, Azerbaijan’s president said Tuesday.
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“Rumors being spread by Armenia that Turkey is involved in the conflict are provocative,” Ilham Aliyev told the Russian “60 Minutes” program aired on the Rossiya-1 TV channel.
Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan responded to questions from the hosts.
“The role of Turkey is intended to stabilize the situation in the region. Turkey is our brother country and our ally,” Aliyev said, adding that as soon as the border clashes began, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other senior Turkish officials voiced support for Azerbaijan and international law.
He also thanked the Turkish nation for its support.
Rejecting Armenia’s claims that a Turkish F-16 fighter jet had downed an Armenian Su-25 ground attack aircraft, Aliyev said Turkish warplanes were “in no way involved in the conflict,” adding Armenia’s reports were “fake news.”
“The aim of Armenia is to insult the Azerbaijani army, which fulfils its duty with honour, by making such false reports and to create the impression that the conflicts have increased and third countries are getting involved in the issue,” he said.
Ankara has also denied Armenia’s claim regarding the downed aircraft.
Aliyev stressed that Armenia had “brutally violated” international law by invading Azerbaijani territory.
The Azerbaijani leader pointed out that clashes were continuing on the border and that the Azerbaijani army had liberated some settlements from occupation and seized strategically important heights.
Claims regarding Syrian fighters
Aliyev also denied allegations that fighters were brought to Azerbaijan from Syria to battle Armenian forces. “This is another [piece of] fake news. There are no fighters from Syria. There is no evidence of this. This is Armenian propaganda spread over the internet and by different media outlets.” “With a population of 10 million versus 2 million in Armenia, we have enough human resources,” he added.
Noting that the Azerbaijani army is well-trained and prepared, Aliyev emphasized that his country can defend its lands on its own. Border clashes broke out early Sunday when Armenian forces targeted Azerbaijani civilian settlements and military positions, leading to multiple casualties.
Relations between the two former Soviet nations have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.
The UN Security Council threw its weight Tuesday behind Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call to end fighting in the Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The council’s members “expressed concern over reports of large-scale military actions along the Line of Contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone,” in a statement.
“They strongly condemn the use of force and regret the loss of life and the toll on the civilian population,” they added. “Security Council members expressed their full support for the central role of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and urge the sides to work closely with them for an urgent resumption of dialogue without preconditions.”