Russia has criticized the Turkish leadership for making “absolutely unacceptable” comments during a flare-up of violence between Armenian-backed separatists and Azerbaijani forces over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“These were not appeals for peace but for war,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on April 22 after talks with his Armenian counterpart, Eduard Nalbandian, in Yerevan.
A cease-fire halted four days of fierce fighting between Armenia-backed Karabakh separatists and Azerbaijani forces on April 5, but sporadic shooting still breaks out.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey was “standing side by side with our brothers in Azerbaijan.”
“Karabakh will one day return to its original owner,” he said. “It will be Azerbaijan’s.”
Erdogan also accused Russia of siding with Armenia in the conflict.
Relations between Turkey and Russia have drastically deteriorated after Ankara downed a Russian warplane near the Syrian border in November.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh since the waning years of the Soviet Union.
Populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, the territory declared independence from Azerbaijan in a 1988-94 war that claimed an estimated 30,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
Source: Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.