Turkey is continuing discussions on how to observe and monitor a ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday, after the warring sides signed a Russia-brokered deal to end fighting.
Under the deal, Russian peacekeepers will be deployed along the frontline in Nagorno-Karabakh and the corridor between the region and Armenia. Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said Turkey will also take part in the peace-keeping process.
Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, Cavusoglu said the deal would ensure the seven regions around Karabakh are handed to Azerbaijan, adding that Turkey would continue to stand with its Azeri allies.
Under the ceasefire deal, Azerbaijan will keep territorial gains made in the fighting, including the enclave’s second city of Shusha, which Armenians call Shushi.
Ethnic Armenian forces must give up control of a slew of other territories between now and December 1.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the arrangement should pave the way for a lasting political settlement of a conflict which has killed thousands, displaced many more, and threatened to plunge the wider region into war.
The ceasefire triggered celebrations in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, where cars and buses sounded their horns in delight and people cheered and waved the Azeri national flag.
But unrest broke out in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, where crowds stormed and ransacked government buildings overnight, labelling the deal a betrayal. Some demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Pashinyan said on Tuesday he had concluded the peace deal under pressure from his own army, which said all military action in Nagorno-Karabakh had stopped and that the situation was calm.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but populated and, until recently, fully controlled by ethnic Armenians who have been pushed back by Azerbaijan’s armed forces in recent weeks.
Since fighting erupted on Sept. 27, Azerbaijan says it has retaken much of the land in and around Nagorno-Karabakh that it lost in a 1991-94 war in which an estimated 30,000 people were killed.
The deal is likely to be seen as a sign that Russia, which has a defence pact with Armenia and a military base there, is still the main arbiter in a region it regards as its own backyard, despite Turkish attempts to muscle in.
Russian peacekeepers will stay in place for at least five years, expanding Moscow’s military footprint in the region. Putin said they would be deployed along the frontline in Nagorno-Karabakh and in a corridor between the region and Armenia.