GABALA, AZERBAIJAN — Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reaffirmed Turkey’s unconditional support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on Thursday, saying that ending “Armenian occupation” of Azerbaijani lands is a top priority for Ankara.
“Turkey is ready to do everything in its power to end the occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia,” Davutoglu declared at a meeting of the foreign ministers of Turkic states held in the northern Azerbaijani town of Gabala.
“The liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied Azerbaijani territories remains a key direction of our foreign policy and we will continue acting in that vein. We categorically protest against the occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijani lands and the forcible expulsion of our Azerbaijani brothers from their homes,” the Azerbaijani APA news agency quoted him as saying.
Davutoglu further expressed serious concern over the lack of decisive progress in long-running international efforts to broker a peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict.
Davutoglu openly criticized the United States, Russia and France — the three mediating powers — for the Karabakh stalemate during his previous trip to Azerbaijan last month. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov echoed that criticism and called for greater Turkish involvement in the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process.
Armenia was quick to again reject any Turkish mediation. Armenian leaders have repeatedly said that Turkey cannot act as an honest broker because it has openly sided with Azerbaijan in the unresolved conflict.
Ankara refuses to establish diplomatic relations with Yerevan and open the Turkish-Armenian border before a Karabakh settlement acceptable to Baku.