Turkish defense minister: Turkey, Russia to cooperate in defending Azerbaijani rights
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Turkish defense minister: Turkey, Russia to cooperate in defending Azerbaijani rights

Turkey’s defense minister said Turkish and Russian troops will work together to defend the rights of Azerbaijan.

“Our activities will intensify after the joint center starts operating, and we will carry out our duty of defending the rights of Azerbaijani brothers,” visiting Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told a military ceremony in the Azerbaijani capital Baku late Wednesday.

Turkish personnel, who arrived in Azerbaijan earlier this week to work in the joint monitoring center in Karabakh, were also present at the ceremony, which was also attended by Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler, military commanders and senior authorities.

Praising Azerbaijan’s victory over the Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, Akar said Russia and Turkey’s joint center will monitor the cease-fire, which was announced on Nov. 10.

Following the truce, Turkey and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to set up a joint center to monitor the peace deal. It will be established on Azerbaijani territories liberated from Armenia’s occupation.

Earlier in December, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said the center will be established in the city of Aghdam.

Akar noted that the Turkish and Azerbaijani troops continue to clear mines and improvised explosives planted by Armenians in the region.

Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov, for his part, said: “Turkey has always been by our side. The Turkish president, defense minister and other authorities have always supported Azerbaijan.”

Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, and seven adjacent regions.

When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, the Armenian Army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.

During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from nearly three decades of occupation.

Despite the deal ending the conflict, the Armenian Army violated the agreement several times, killing several soldiers and civilians, according to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.

The truce is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces have been withdrawing in line with the agreement.

This article originally appeared in DAILY SABAH on 31 Dec 2020.