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Turkey ‘urging war’ to settle Nagorno issue

Russia slams Ankara’s role in Caucasus dispute

RUSSIAN Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Turkey yesterday of stirring up war between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

He was speaking after meeting his Armenian counterpart Eduard Nalbandyan to discuss the recent renewed conflict in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“The statements of the Turkish leadership are absolutely unacceptable,” Mr Lavrov said. “These were the calls not for peace but for war. These were calls to resolve the conflict by military means.”

“Unfortunately, we have got accustomed to such ‘twists’ of the current Turkish leadership,” he said.

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Minsk Group of Russia, France and the United States of “inaction” on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

Mr Nalbandyan said the recent fighting had pushed back talks over the contested territory.

“A serious blow to security and stability was dealt,” he said. “But one should think about how to overcome these consequences, although some things are irreparable — the deaths.”

“These events have pushed the negotiating process backwards,” he said.

The two former Soviet republics have been in dispute over the majority-Armenian oblast of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan since 1988, before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The two countries went to war in 1994, since when the region has been under Armenian jurisdiction.

Fighting flared up again on April 2, with dozens killed as Azeri forces tried to reoccupy the area. Turkey backed Azerbaijan’s position.

Russia, which has treaty obligations to Armenia and a military base in the country, joined the US, France and Iran in mediating a truce.

Last summer, the Armenian capital Yerevan saw weeks of anti-government protests in an apparent attempt at “colour revolution.”

Earlier yesterday, Mr Lavrov laid a wreath at the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian genocide memorial, a move sure to antagonise Ankara.

Turkey does not accept that the killing of up to 1.5 million ethnic Armenians by the Ottoman empire, beginning in 1915 and lasting several years, was an act of genocide.

Earlier this week the pro-Turkish FactCheckArmenia.com group drew fire when it took out full-page newspaper and prominent billboard adverts in the US, including in the Wall Street Journal and New York’s Times Square, implying that Armenia and Russia were lying about the atrocities.

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