Armenia and Azerbaijan fight over Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey is now said to have participated in the conflict with armed forces. Chancellor Merkel is said to have been called up again.
In the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Armenia has accused Turkey of being directly involved in the fighting. “There are 150 senior Turkish officers leading Azerbaijan’s military operations,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a speech to his people on Saturday evening. “The scale of the offensive is unprecedented.” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev had previously said that Turkey, an ally of his country, was not involved in the conflict. Over the weekend, fighting in the South Caucasus continued unabated – despite calls for a ceasefire.
“A Fateful Chapter in Our History”
Fighting is going on on the front lines, Pashinyan said. “We are facing a fateful chapter in our history.” The head of the government said the Armenian people are targeted by Azerbaijan and Turkey. According to the Armenian bureau Armenpress, on Saturday evening he called Chancellor Angela Merkel for the second time in a few days and informed her about the involvement of Turkish military officers.
Aliyev, in turn, thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his support in a letter published by his office that evening. In particular, he pointed out that Turkey condemned Armenia’s actions.
Name change for terrain
Azerbaijan had again claimed land gains in the evening. The president wrote on Twitter that Madagisin had been captured by the military. “I give the freed Madagisan back its historical name – Suqovusan”, the head of state stressed. There was no independent confirmation of the conquest. The village is located on the strategically important Sarsang Reservoir, which controls the water supply for the Terter River in the Eastern Plain.
According to Armenian sources, the situation was relatively calm at night. Authorities in the capital Stepanakert had previously reported that the city in Nagorno-Karabakh had been shelled by the Azerbaijani side. All day long, the two warring nations had talked about skirmishes in different regions. Armenia announced it had shot down enemy planes.
Fought hard for a week
The two states have been engaged in heavy fighting in the Armenian-controlled area of Azerbaijan for a week now. These go well beyond the skirmishes that have taken place in the region recently. Both parties are shifting responsibility for the renewed escalation on each other.
The two countries have been fighting for the mountainous region for decades, which is home to approximately 145,000 people. In a war that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union some 30 years ago, Azerbaijan lost control of the area. It is now inhabited by Christian Karabakh Armenians. A fragile ceasefire has existed since 1994.
Group calls for an end to the fighting
The official mediation body between the two warring ex-Soviet republics is the so-called Minsk group of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The group called for an immediate end to the fighting and a return to the negotiating table. Pashinyan also challenged Russian peacekeepers. This should be discussed in the Minsk group, he said.
Azerbaijan is not responsible for the composition of this group, Aliyev told Al-Jazeera television station. If a decision had to be made today on an occupation for this group that could also promote peace, “the composition would of course have been very different”.
Moscow only wants to send Russian peacekeepers to the crisis area with the consent of Yerevan and Baku. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said this Saturday evening, the broadcaster RBK reported. “Peace forces can only be deployed if both sides agree,” he said.