Moscow, Ankara Discuss Karabakh Conflict

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (left) with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (left) with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (left) with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov

  • Unclear whether the issue of Turkey-Backed Jihadists fighting for Baku was discussed
  • Artsakh Parliament calls on Russia and Iran to establish anti-terrorist task-force

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Sunday discussed Moscow’s efforts to restart the stalled Karabakh conflict settlement talks.

The two agreed that Armenia and Azerbaijan must fully comply with the Russian-mediated humanitarian ceasefire agreement reached early Saturday, reported the Russian foreign ministry, which said that Ankara had initiated the telephone conversation.

According to the Russian foreign ministry, Lavrov told Cavusoglu that Moscow was ready to continue its “active mediation efforts” to resolve the Karabakh conflict.

The Anadolu news agency said Sunday that Cavusoglu reportedly told Lavrov to “warn Armenia to observe the ceasefire,” citing an unnamed government source.

Official accounts of the Lavrov-Cavusoglu accounts did not mention whether the two discussed the issue of Ankara-backed jihadists fighting alongside Azerbaijani troops.

President Emanuel Macron of France warned that Ankara was deploying jihadists from Syria to fight with Azerbaijani forces. Earlier this week, Russia’s national intelligence chief confirmed the presence of mercenaries as it continued to deplore “third-party” interference in the conflict. A source at the Pentagon also corroborated the matter in an interview with Sky News.

These official statements on the presence of jihadists on the frontlines has also been reported by international media outlets, whose reporters on the ground in the battle zone have confirmed the claims. Some have reported that the mercenaries were paid between $1,000 and $2,000 to fight in battles against Artsakh Armenians. Other press accounts have also claimed that the militants were forced to deploy by official Ankara.

Meanwhile Artsakh’s National Assembly on Sunday called on Russia and Iran to form an anti-terrorism task force to combat the international terrorism. The Artsakh legislature warned that presence of members of known terrorist organizations in the region posed a potential threat not only to Artsakh’s safety, but also the security of the entire region.

In a telephone conversation last week, the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran last week expressed concerns about the presence of mercenaries in the region, falling short of condemning Turkey for its blatant backing of the jihadists.

Citing Turkey’s long history of using extremist forces in its intervention efforts in Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere, the Artsakh National Assembly stressed the importance of regional peace, security, profitable cooperation and fight by the countries of the region against international terrorism.”

It called on Iran and Russia to

  1. To condemn Azerbaijan’s use of international terrorist groups and their representatives in military aggression against Artsakh
  2. Establish a joint anti-terrorist focal point to identify and develop joint plans to neutralize international terrorists, their placement points and relevant military bases
  3. Create a joint anti-terrorist coalition to quickly and efficient physical neutralize terrorists and their groups.
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