Turkey’s defense minister on Tuesday expressed his country’s support for “counterterrorism” operations in parts of Nagorno-Karabakh under Armenian control, the Karar daily reported.
Azerbaijan launched the operation in its breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, nearly three years after fighting a brief but brutal war with Armenia over the mountainous region.
Turkish Defense Minister Yaşar Güler on Tuesday spoke on the phone with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Zakir Hasanov, who informed him about the Azerbaijan’s military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Güler told Hasanov that Turkey is always on the side of Azerbaijan.
The two neighbors, Azerbaijan and Armenia, have gone to war twice over Nagorno-Karabakh, first in the early 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union and again in 2020.
Turkey was a key backer of Azerbaijan during the 2020 conflict, providing it with drones produced by the Baykar company — co-run by a son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The clashes in 2020 ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire after six weeks of fighting and some 6,000 deaths.
Ankara, which has for years helped to arm and train the Azerbaijani military, was widely accused of dispatching mercenaries from Syria to bolster Baku’s army but denied the claim.
Meanwhile, far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli also expressed support for Azerbaijan, saying that Karabakh is Turkish soil.
“Karabakh is Turkish, it is a Turkish home. Armenia should come to its senses,” Bahçeli said at a party meeting.
Since December Azerbaijan has maintained an effective blockade of the only route into the enclave from Armenia, known as the Lachin Corridor. Armenia claims the blockade has led to shortages of food, medicine and electricity in the region.
Luis Moreno Ocampo, a former prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, drafted a report in August that warned of a potential “genocide” against ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabagh due to the blockade, labeling starvation as an “invisible genocide weapon.”
Fears of a fresh war in the region have been building in recent months, with Armenia accusing Azerbaijan of a troop buildup and decrying the blockade of its only land link to Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan justified the mission citing “systematic” shelling by Armenian-backed forces, accusing them of carrying out “reconnaissance activities” and fortifying defensive positions.