Turkey Must Withdraw Troops, Mercenaries from Karabakh, Says Armenia’s Foreign Minister

Armenia's Foreign Minister Ara Aivazyan with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Dec. 7

Armenia's Foreign Minister Ara Aivazyan with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Dec. 7

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Ara Aivazyan with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Dec. 7

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Ara Aivazyan said that it was imperative for Turkey to withdraw its troops, as well as the mercenaries it has deployed out of Karabakh.

“Turkey, as the main instigator and supporter of the Azerbaijani aggression against the people of Artsakh today as well continues advancing a destructive policy for the region,” said Ayvazyan during a joint press conference Monday in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

“This obliges the international community to take all possible steps to force Turkey to refrain from any activities which could further escalate tensions. Turkey should withdraw the staff of its armed forces and the armed terrorist groups from the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone and the South Caucasus in general,” added Aivazyan.

Armenia’s foreign minister, who is on his first visit to Moscow since assuming the post last month added that there are no significant signs of Turkey making any effort to withdraw the foreign armed terrorists.

“Quite the contrary, there are confirmed reports that Azerbaijan is planning to expand the geography of spreading armed terrorists and mercenaries and populate the occupied regions of Artsakh with them,” Aivazyan warned.

Aivazyan and Lavorv both emphasized the need for the quick exchange of prisoners of war and return of the remains of soldiers from the Artsakh war, which is one of the provisions of the November 9 declaration that ended the military actions in Karabakh. 

“The exchange of captives is a very important issue,” Lavrov said during his meeting Aivazyan. “We will try to mediate through our peacekeepers to complete the process as soon as possible. We know that this a very difficult matter for the families and relatives of those who are held captive, as well as the issue of the exchange of the remains of the victims, which should also be resolved.”

Aivazyan said that exchange of captives is more crucial given evidence coming to light of the inhumane treatment of Armenian prisoners by Azerbaijani soldiers.

“Certainly, the issue of the search for the servicemen missing in action, the exchange of captives and the remains of victims is a very sensitive issue and requires speedy solution,” said Aivazyan, emphasizing the barbaric acts being committed against Armenians by Azerbaijan.

The Armenian foreign minister also highlighted the need to preserve Armenian religious and cultural sites, which have already been destroyed or vandalized by Azerbaijani forces after territories were surrendered to Baku.

During the joint press conference, Lavrov discuss the establishment of the humanitarian response center.

“This is President Putin’s initiative. We have proposed to make this center an international one, with the participation of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Now the practical issues of this initiative are under discussion. Numerous Russian ministries and agencies will participate in its realization,” Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign ministers set forth preconditions for transforming the South Caucasus from what he called a conflict zone to a region of stability and prosperity.

“I would like to highlight the importance of the joint statement signed by the Prime Minister of Armenia, the President of Russia and the Azerbaijani President which stopped the war, ensured agreements which enable the refugees to return to their homes, unblock all economic and transportation routes. We can turn the South Caucasus from a region of conflicts into a region of stability and prosperity for all nations in the region. We will assist with all means in this process,” Lavrov said.

The process of restoring the economy, infrastructure, health systems and life support would contribute to the establishment of good-neighborly relations between Armenians and Azerbaijanis both in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and in the interstate plan, he added.

“This would contribute to the formation of an atmosphere of trust and cooperation in the region for the benefit of all the people living there and the countries located there. We are convinced that representatives of various nationalities, religions should live in peace and security wherever they are. And the South Caucasus deserves just such an approach,” Lavrov said.

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