Turkey supports efforts for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh as long as they account for Azerbaijan’s legitimate demands, a spokesman for the Turkish presidency has said.
“We call on the Minsk Group to come up with a timetable and a new proposal that is actionable, that has specific guidelines to end the current round of hostilities but most importantly also a way to end the occupation of Azeri lands by Armenia, which has been the root cause of this problem,” government spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin told Al Jazeera.
“The Minsk Group, which was established almost 30 years ago, has done very little to bring to an end this frozen conflict in the southern Caucasus. It’s time to come up with a new road map. That’s what the Azeris have been demanding and what we’ve been supporting. Yes to a ceasefire, but a ceasefire must be sustainable.
“The only way to make it sustainable is to talk about Armenia’s occupation of Azeri lands.”
Matthew Bryza, a former United States ambassador to Azerbaijan and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, says the two countries are looking to consolidate their control over disputed territories to enter negotiations from a position of strength.
“The endgame for Azerbaijan is to recover some of its lost territories, maybe three or so districts, two of the occupied regions that are outside of Nagorno-Karabakh and one part of Nagorno-Karabakh itself … and then hold on to it and go back to negotiations from a position of strength,” Bryza told Al Jazeera.
“Armenia’s objective here is to avoid that and to hang on to all the territories if possible and try to rely on Russia and the international community to pressure Azerbaijan to stop its offensive.”
Three journalists have been hurt by Azeri shelling in the town of Shusha in Nagorno-Karabakh – and one of them has been hospitalised and is in a serious condition, authorities in the region said.
The journalist in bad condition is a Russian national who worked as an editor for Segodnya.ru, authorities said. The other two were an Armenian national and an international media journalist who was not immediately identified, they said.
Russia’s foreign ministry has said it was in talks with Azerbaijan and Armenia to organise a possible meeting in Moscow with Russia and the two governments’ foreign ministers, the Interfax news agency reported.
Azerbaijan has denied its forces had shelled an historic cathedral in Nagorno-Karabakh’s city of Shusha as claimed by Armenia.
“The information about the damage to the church in Shusha has nothing to do with the military actions of the Azerbaijani army,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
“Unlike the armed forces of Armenia … the Azerbaijani army does not target historical, cultural, or especially religious buildings and monuments.”
Azerbaijan has recalled its ambassador to Greece for consultations after it alleged Athens had allowed Armenian citizens from around the world to transit through its territory to join the battlefront.
“We brought to the attention of the Greek Foreign Ministry information from open sources about the arrival of Armenian citizens from foreign countries, including from Greece, to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan to participate in military operations,” the ministry said in a statement.
Armenia denied the allegations and Athens had recalled its ambassador to Azerbaijan on Wednesday after what it said were “unfounded and offensive” allegations by the Azeri government that Greece tolerated fighters on its soil.
Armenia said Azerbaijani forces had shelled an historic cathedral in Nagorno-Karabakh’s city of Shusha, where AFP journalists saw the church had suffered serious damage.
There was a gaping hole in the roof of the Ghazanchetsots (Holy Saviour) Cathedral, an iconic site for the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Rubble was strewn about the floor, pews were knocked over and the interior was covered in dust from parts of the building’s limestone walls that had been hit. A section of its metallic roof had collapsed and fallen to the ground outside.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said the “status quo has to be changed” regarding the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, adding that Turkey respects the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
Speaking at the annual GLOBSEC forum in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, Cavusoglu also added he was against any conflict in the Black Sea region, adding that Turkey is not flirting with Russia and supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Armenia on Thursday dismissed Argishti Kyaramyan, the head its National Security Service, the Interfax news agency reported, citing a presidential decree.
France, the United States and Russia will step up efforts to end fighting between Azeri and ethnic Armenian forces in the South Caucasus by holding talks in Geneva, as fears of a regional war grow.
French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian said Russian, French and US representatives would also meet in Moscow on Monday to look at ways to persuade the warring sides to negotiate a ceasefire.?The three countries are co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group that mediates over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Turkey has accused the group of neglecting the conflict and said it should not be involved in mediation.
Le Drian hit back at Turkey, reiterating accusations – denied by Ankara – that it is involved militarily and saying this fuelled the “internationalisation” of the conflict.
Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces fought new clashes in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Azerbaijan said the city of Ganja was shelled by Armenian forces and that one civilian had been killed in the Goranboy region. It said other villages were fired on by ethnic Armenian forces.
— MFA Azerbaijan ???? (@AzerbaijanMFA) October 8, 2020
Azeri authorities have reported 30 civilian deaths since fighting broke out on September 27 over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountain enclave which under international law belongs to Azerbaijan but is populated and governed by ethnic Armenians.
Azerbaijan also says 143 civilians have been wounded but has not disclosed information about its military casualties.
The defence ministry of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, run by ethnic Armenians, said it had recorded another 30 casualties among its troops, pushing the military death toll to 350 since fighting with Azeri forces erupted on September 27.
The fighting has surged to its worst level since the 1990s when some 30,000 people were killed.
Good morning. Shereena Qazi in Doha and Anealla Safdar in London will be bringing you the latest updates on the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis today, Thursday, October 8.
Here’s a quick recap:?
Fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh has continued for a second week (we are now on day 12 of the clashes) as Armenia and Azerbaijan battle over the breakaway region.
So far, the two rivals are ignoring international appeals for a ceasefire and have accused one another of causing civilian and military casualties since clashing on September 27.
Almost 300 people have been reported killed overall, but the real death toll is believed to be higher.
The key news on Thursday, so far at least, is that France, Russia and the US will hold talks in Geneva aimed at de-escalating the situation.
More on that later.