Armenia Warns Against Turkish Base in Azerbaijan

YEREVAN (RFE./RL)–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian on Monday warned Turkey against establishing military presence in Azerbaijan–a move which he said would "disrupt [the] balance" of forces in the region and cause Armenia to take adequate steps.

Oskanian said that there are "already some negotiations underway" on whether to open a Turkish military base in Azerbaijan–which is locked in a long dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.

"If such a deployment does take place–Armenia must think about what steps could be taken to restore the military balance," Oskanian told reporters. However–he would not say what those steps might be.

In the light of growing military ties between Russia and Armenia–some Azeri officials have speculated about inviting NATO or Turkish troops to ward off the perceived threat to Azerbaijan’s independence. Russia has recently deployed modern aircraft and sophisticated air-defense missiles in Armenia in what it said was a planned re-armament of its military base there.

Oskanian dismissed Azeri concerns–saying that the "Russian base protects only the external borders of Armenia and the CIS." He said Yerevan will be unable to use the weaponry deployed on that base if the war with Azerbaijan resumes.

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