Erdogan, Putin to discuss Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes

New clashes erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia on Wednesday as international peace efforts intensified. PHOTO: REUTERS

ANKARA - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin will discuss recent fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan when they meet in Samarkand this week, a senior Turkish official said on Wednesday.

"This issue will be discussed with Putin. Because the role played by Russia and Turkey in ending this war and the joint work that followed are obvious," the official said, requesting anonymity.

"Turkey has started contacts to overcome the problem between the two countries. This needs to end before it grows further."

The meeting between Mr Erdogan and Mr Putin, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's summit in Uzbekistan, is set to take place on Friday.

New clashes erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia on Wednesday as international peace efforts intensified, a day after nearly 100 soldiers were killed in the worst fighting between the ex-Soviet republics since a 2020 war.

A ceasefire was holding as of Thursday morning after two days of clashes, which threatened to undermine a peace process between the two rival countries.

Russia is the preeminent power in the Caucasus and has peacekeeping troops in the Azeri-Armenian conflict zone.

Turkey is a key regional broker with close ties to Azerbaijan and historically poor relations with Armenia.

"Turkey will continue to stand by Azerbaijan in every sense," the official added.

Mr Erdogan blamed the latest escalation on unspecified violations by Armenia of a Russian-brokered agreement that brought an end to the 2020 war. The deal allowed Azerbaijan to take control of large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh it had lost in a 1990s war.

"We find the situation we are in - which is the result of violations of the deal reached after the war ended with Azerbaijan's victory - as unacceptable," Mr Erdogan told a public rally.

"It will, of course, have consequences for Armenia, which did not fulfil the agreement's conditions and constantly displayed an aggressive attitude."

Armenia has confirmed the death of more than 100 soldiers and Azerbaijan has reported 50 fatalities.

The toll could still mount due to reports of continuing exchanges of fire.

Turkey is Azerbaijan's main weapons supplier and a backer of Baku's cause on the diplomatic stage.

The violence threatens to derail a nascent effort by Turkey and Armenia to strike a reconciliation agreement that could bolster trade and travel between the neighbouring states.

Turkey's relations with Armenia - which relies on diplomatic and military backing from Russia - have been effectively frozen because of Ankara's refusal to recognise the genocide of Armenians by the Ottomans during World War I.


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