Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed his calls for a change of administration in Armenia as he celebrated Azerbaijan’s military victory against the country.
Erdogan attended a military parade in Baku that saluted Azerbaijan’s victory in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, that claimed more than 5,000 lives.
He called for new leadership in Armenia, and said that it could join a regional cooperation with Azerbaijan if it took certain steps. He also raised the possibility of reopening the border between Turkey and Armenia.
Turkey provided critical diplomatic and military backing to Azerbaijan in the conflict over the Armenian-majority enclave, reportedly including redeploying Turkish mercenaries from Syria to bolster Baku’s army.
Under a Moscow-backed agreement, Armenia ceded control over some of the areas it lost during the fighting as well as seven adjacent districts it seized during a war in the 1990s. De jure, Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijani territory, but the enclave had been controlled by Armenia since the 1990s conflict.
“We wish for the Armenian people to rid itself of the burden of leaders who console them with the lies of the past and trap them into poverty,” Erdogan said in Baku on Thursday.
The leader of NATO’s second-largest military in terms of troop numbers said he had discussed forming a regional cooperation initiative with Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran and Georgia, and possibly Armenia.
He also called for accountability for war crimes that he said were committed by ethnic Armenian forces, as well as the alleged destruction of villages, cities and mosques. Armenian forces have denied such accusations and said Azerbaijani troops and foreign mercenaries are the ones responsible.
At the celebration on Thursday, Azerbaijan’s army paraded military hardware and weapons seized from Armenia, and displayed Turkish Bayraktar TB2 combat drones, which Turkish media and military analysts claimed “turned the tide” of the war.
“We are here today to… celebrate this glorious victory,” Erdogan said. “Azerbaijan’s saving its lands from occupation does not mean that the struggle is over,” he added. “The struggle carried out in the political and military areas will continue from now on many other fronts.”
aw/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)