Türkiye says it stands by Azerbaijan in its ‘just cause’

Türkiye says it stands by Azerbaijan in its ‘just cause’

Türkiye’s Defense Ministry on Thursday said Ankara will continue supporting Azerbaijan’s actions to protect its territorial integrity, as well as “sincere” efforts to facilitate permanent peace with Armenia after Baku sent troops to disputed Karabakh on Tuesday to disarm Armenian separatists, according to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting Daily Sabah.

“We reiterate that we will stand with our Azerbaijani brothers and sisters in their cause,” the ministry’s press representative, Rear Adm. Zeki Aktürk, told reporters in the capital, Ankara, at a weekly briefing.

Karabakh is the source of endless strain between the ex-Soviet republics who fought two wars over it – in the early 1990s and again in 2020, which ended with a Moscow-brokered cease-fire agreement that saw Armenia cede swathes of territory it illegally occupied for over three decades.

Fears of a fresh war were averted Wednesday when Azerbaijan suspended its counterterrorism measures in Karabakh after illegal armed forces agreed to lay down arms and launch reintegration talks. Representatives from Azerbaijan and a delegation of the Armenian community of the Karabakh region met in the Azerbaijani city of Yevlakh on Thursday.

“Türkiye is closely watching Azerbaijan’s taking the necessary measures on its sovereign territory, its military operation to prevent attacks and provocations by illegal Armenian armed forces, the following cease-fire and recent developments in the region,” Aktürk said.

Armenia did not fulfill its obligations under the 2020 trilateral agreement, exacerbating instability in the region and escalating tensions.

Armenia supports illegitimate armed groups in Karabakh, engages in activities that destabilize the region and carries out provocative actions such as fortification and border violations, he added.

As for whether Türkiye provided any practical support to Azerbaijan’s operation, Aktürk said the offensive was “ultimately conducted by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.”

Azerbaijan’s success in its operation is important in terms of demonstrating the level of its military as it has been cooperating with Türkiye on military training and modernization for many years now, Aktürk added.

“Ultimately, Karabakh is Azerbaijani territory, and the imposition of any other status will never be accepted.”

He said Armenia heavily mined the region, and after the second Karabakh war, efforts to clear the mines were initiated, which continue to date.

Anti-terrorism toll

Aktürk also reported updates from Türkiye’s ongoing counterterrorism operations in the north of Iraq and Syria, where terrorist groups like the PKK, its Syrian offshoot, the YPG, and the remaining cells of Daesh are active.

“A total of 42 terrorists were neutralized last week,” he said.

Turkish authorities use the term “neutralize” to imply that the terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.

“Efforts continue to establish stability in Syria as soon as possible, enabling the safe return of Syrians to a normalized environment,” the official said, referring to Türkiye’s efforts in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor, protecting Türkiye’s border and ensuring the safety of local Syrians.

All necessary measures are being taken to maintain security and stability in operation zones, and terrorist attacks are being met with proportional responses, the official added.

Since January, 317 incidents and attacks have been carried out by the YPG/PKK terrorist group in areas of Türkiye’s counterterrorism operations, and 926 terrorists have been “neutralized” with the immediate response of Turkish soldiers, according to the official.

Since 2016, Ankara has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019).

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK-listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the U.S. and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

Some 7,442 people who tried to cross Türkiye’s borders illegally have been caught since Jan. 1, including 497 terrorists, Aktürk further informed.

A total of 158,380 people were prevented before they crossed the border.

Türkiye has been a key transit point for irregular migrants who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

The country, which already hosts 4 million refugees, more than any other country in the world, is taking new measures at its borders to prevent a fresh influx of migrants.

Future of Black Sea grain deal

Meanwhile, regarding Ukraine’s proposal to resume the Black Sea grain deal without Russian participation, security sources said Türkiye favors continuing the deal with all four parties involved.

“There is no new proposal on our table,” the source said, adding efforts and contacts in this direction are continuing.