YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—A joint Turkish and Russian observation center to monitor the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh started operations after an opening ceremony with senior defense officials in attendance on Saturday.
Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov and deputy defense ministers from regional powers Turkey and Russia were there to launch the center, in the Agdam region east of Karabakh, according to Azerbaijan’s state news agency Azertac.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced on Friday that one Turkish general and 38 personnel will be stationed at the center.
“Our activities will intensify with the work of this joint Turkish-Russian center and we will fulfill our duty to defend the rights of our Azerbaijani brothers,” Akar said in a statement posted on the Defense Ministry’s website.
Turkey and Russia agreed to form a joint observation center shortly after Moscow in November brokered a ceasefire agreement that ended the Armenian-Azerbaijani war in and around Karabakh. Turkey was a major backer of Azerbaijan in the conflict.
Turkish Major General Abdullah Katirci and Russian Major General Viktor Fyodorenko will reportedly command their respective contingents at the center.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev welcomed the opening of the Russian-Turkish center when they spoke by phone later on Saturday. According to the Kremlin, the two leaders expressed hope it “will contribute to the further stabilization of the situation” in the conflict zone and the conflicting parties’ compliance with the ceasefire agreement.
Under the agreement, around 2,000 Russian peacekeepers are also deployed along Karabakh frontline areas and a land link connecting Karabakh with Armenia.
Armenian Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunyan praised the Russian peacekeeping operation on Monday in a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu. According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, Harutiunyan said the peacekeepers have helped to ensure the “almost full observance of the ceasefire.”
A ministry statement said Shoigu phoned Harutiunyan to discuss the results of “staff negotiations” held by senior Russian and Armenian military officials in Yerevan last week. The two ministers also spoke about “the course of the resolution of Armenia’s security issues in the post-war period,” it said without elaborating.