YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—A senior Russian diplomat deplored on Monday Turkey’s full and unconditional support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, saying that it runs counter to international efforts to broker an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace deal.
“Such a position is not supported in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,” Aleksandr Lukashevich, the Russian ambassador to the OSCE headquarters in Vienna, told the Rossiya-24 TV channel.
“There is a strict understanding that the three co-chairs [of the OSCE Minsk Group] — Russia, France and the U.S. — carry the main burden, as do other members of the Minsk Group,” said Lukashevich. “Turkey, by the way, is also a member. But the leading role [in the Karabakh peace process] is reserved for the three co-chairs.”
“Therefore, attempts to defend one of the parties to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh are absolutely destructive and cannot have any continuation,” added the diplomat.
The remarks clearly reflect a continuing war of words between Moscow and Ankara that followed the November 24 downing by a Turkish fighter jet of a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reaffirmed that stance when they paid separate visits to Baku shortly after the downing of the Russian bomber. Cavusoglu criticized the U.S., Russian and French mediators for failing to achieve a Karabakh settlement acceptable to Azerbaijan. He said they should come up with “new proposals” on resolving the dispute.
Lukashevich attacked Ankara just hours after a Turkish-Azerbaijani task force on military cooperation began an annual session in Baku. The two Turkic allies have stepped up that cooperation since the signing in 2010 of a bilateral treaty on “strategic partnership and mutual assistance.”
Armenia has sought to preclude direct Turkish military intervention in the Karabakh conflict with close defense links with Russia and, in particular, Russian military presence on its soil. A Russian-Armenian agreement signed in 2010 upgraded the security mission of a Russian army base headquartered in Gyumri, an Armenian city close to the Turkish border.