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Turkey’s Erdogan hails Azerbaijan’s achievement in Karabakh

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) is welcomed by Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev in Nakhichevan, September 25, 2023. (AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arrived in Azerbaijan, days after Baku managed to reclaim full control of the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Erdogan held talks with Aliyev in the Azerbaijani territory of Nakhichevan on Monday.

The Turkish president said Azerbaijan’s military achievement in Nagorno-Karabakh “is a matter of pride” and it has opened a “window of opportunity” to normalize relations in the region.

“This opportunity must not be missed,” Erdogan stated.

“We expect from the Armenian side that they will shake the hand stretched out to them in peace and will take sincere steps.”

Nagorno-Karabakh is a landlocked region in the Caucasus and lies within Azerbaijan’s borders.

The region has always been internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan though it is mostly populated by ethnic Armenians, who have resisted Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over the territory.

Last week, Azerbaijan launched an operation designed to seize control of the breakaway territory and perhaps end a three-decade-old conflict.

The operation ended on September 20, after the Azerbaijani military routed Armenian forces in 24 hours and made the separatists agree to lay down weapons, under a Russian-mediated ceasefire.

Thousands of ethnic Armenians have now begun an exodus from the region.

Yerevan said Monday the first refugees arrived in the country on Sunday and 6,650 people have so far entered.

Russia said its peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh were assisting the evacuation in the region.

During the meeting with Erdogan, President Aliyev said Baku “began sending humanitarian aid to Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region. Fuel, foodstuffs, medicines were sent.”

He said the rights of ethnic Armenians in the region would be protected.

“This shows once again that Karabakh’s residents – regardless of their ethnicity – are citizens of Azerbaijan. Their rights will be guaranteed by the Azerbaijani state.”

Aliyev said he was “confident the process of reintegration of Karabakh’s Armenians into Azerbaijani society will be successful.”

Russian peacekeepers are helping Azerbaijan disarm the Karabakh separatists.

The European Union and the United States, which have been mediating between Baku and Yerevan in recent months, have struggled to have an impact.

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