The Minsk Group reactivates negotiations in the hope of achieving a sustainable ceasefire

Turkey remains to arm Azerbaijan while Armenia resumes contacts with Europe

AFP/ADEM ALTAN - The Vice-President of Turkey, Fuat Oktay

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is about to turn one month old, more than half of the population living in the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh has abandoned their homes and those who remain there are enduring the fighting day by day in the face of the passivity of the international community.

Turkey remains active in the conflict, while the Minsk Group is sending out constant communiqués calling for a ceasefire. The talks are still under way, but in a gradual and slow manner. Yesterday, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov met his counterparts from Armenia and Azerbaijan separately. Tomorrow it will be the turn of Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State. 

On Wednesday, the Turkish government promised its neighbour and ally Azerbaijan more military aid, including the possible sending of soldiers to Nagorno-Karabakh. The transfer of militiamen from northern Libya and Syria might not have been enough and, therefore, in an interview with the radio station CNNTurk, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said that his country will not hesitate to provide military support to Azerbaijan as part of military cooperation agreements between the two countries if Baku makes such a request.

For the time being, Azerbaijan has no problems on the front line; it seems that they have announced the recovery of several cities and a cross-border bridge on the line with Iran, a neighbouring country that has complained about the impacts of several rockets within its borders.  Oktay stated that Azerbaijan is making progress, "more than a hundred villages have been liberated". 

At first the statements were direct, but not very media-friendly. Now they are constantly reiterated: Turkey is with Azerbaijan and against Armenia. "Our president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said it clearly from the first day: If an unexpected event happens on the part of Turkey I would not hesitate", said the number two of the Turkish government. 

In this sense, Oktay criticised "It is noteworthy that other countries and international organisations have a say on every issue but remain silent over Armenia’s invasion and killing of civilians." It should be remembered that Armenia occupies 20% of the Azeri territory since 1994. This is due to a war breaking out in 1987, when a referendum was held to proclaim the Republic of Artsaj independent in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Republic of Artsaj was finally proclaimed in 1991, but no UN country recognises this state. 

The war claimed 30,000 lives and displaced 1 million people. Since 1994, the Caucasian conflict has been paralysed by negotiations that have not reached a conclusion. As a result, the warring parties have taken up arms again to the stupor of the international community. 

To conclude the interview, Oktay released some leaks which, if true, would have to be confirmed. According to the vice president, the Armenian economy and army are being helped by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), considered as a terrorist group in Turkey.

Armenia y Turquía
The meetings with Russia and Lavrov have not drawn any clear conclusions 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed separately with his Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts the implementation of the humanitarian ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh, which has not been observed in either of the two recent attempts agreed by the two sides. 

The trip of the Armenian ministers, Zohrab Mnatsakanián, and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Jeihun Bayrámov, had not been announced in advance by Russia, which has been attempting to save the truce with intense diplomatic contacts in recent days. 

It was Yerevan first and then Baku who confirmed the trips made by their respective heads of diplomacy to Moscow, a visit that takes place only two days before both fly to Washington to meet the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. 

"During the talks, urgent issues related to the implementation of previously reached agreements on a cease-fire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and the creation of conditions for its sustainable settlement were discussed", the Russian foreign ministry explained in a brief statement. 

 PHOTO/REUTERS - El presidente armenio Armen Sarkasián
Armenia to intensify contacts in Brussels and Moscow 

The Armenian government has intensified diplomatic contacts in Brussels and Moscow. On the same day that Mnatsakanián travelled to Moscow, Armenia sent the President of the Republic, Armén Sarkasián, to the EU capital, Brussels. 

Sarkasián met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. 

The aim was "to address issues related to the military aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan against the Republic of Artsaj and the explicit involvement of Turkey, as well as the bombings and attacks on towns on the border with Armenia", explained the Armenian Presidency. 

Armenia hopes that NATO and the EU "will do everything possible to curb the military aggression of Azerbaijan and the Atlantic Alliance member Turkey, which will allow ceasefire agreements to be reactivated," he said.

Meetings with Pompeo will take place tomorrow in the United States 

Foreign ministers seem to be on the road more than in a war. On Friday they will meet with the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to discuss, as in Russia, a possible solution to end the armed clashes. 

A meeting among Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs is scheduled for October 23 in Washington, the press service of the Azerbaijani foreign ministry reported in a statement. 

Azerbaijan's foreign spokeswoman, Leila Abdullaheva, said that Bayramov did not plan to meet his Armenian counterpart during this visit to the United States. 

Both Russia and the United States are members, together with France, of the co-chairmanship of the Minsk Group of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This body was set up in 1992 to curb the Caucasian conflict and find a solution for both sides.  

Since the outbreak of the conflict they have already met both Mnatsakhanyan in Moscow and Bayramov in Geneva, but so far it has not been possible to consolidate a ceasefire in the conflict zone. 

War progress and a war in figures 

Baku claims to have already regained control of Hadrut and Fizuli, as well as Zanguilan, but Armenia denies that the Azerbaijani army is advancing as much as the Azeri president, Ilham Aliyev, who yesterday announced that 25 towns that were occupied by Armenian troops south of Nagorno-Karabakh have been recovered. 

"Not a single populated town has an Azerbaijani checkpoint," Armenian Defence Ministry spokesman Arsrun Ovannisián said Wednesday. 

The war has caused the death of 63 civilians on the Azerbaijani side, according to the Prosecutor General's Office, which does not report casualties in the army's ranks. 

According to the Karabakh authorities, 772 soldiers from the local army have lost their lives since September 27.