Macron criticises Turkey’s ‘warlike’ rhetoric on Nagorno-Karabakh

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a press confernce after a meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins in Riga, Latvia, 30 September 2020. [EPA-EFE/Toms Kalnins]

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday (30 August) Turkey’s “warlike” rhetoric was encouraging Azerbaijan to reconquer Nagorno-Karabakh and that was unacceptable, though he added that he had no proof at this stage of direct Turkish involvement.

Fierce fighting broke out on Sunday between Armenian and Azeri forces over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region inside Azerbaijan but run by ethnic Armenians. Turkey is an ally of Azerbaijian, with which it shares ethnic and cultural ties.

“I have noted Turkey’s political declarations (in favour of Azerbaijan), which I think are inconsiderate and dangerous,” Macron told a news conference in Latvia.

“France remains extremely concerned by the warlike messages Turkey had in the last hours, which essentially remove any of Azerbaijian’s inhibitions in reconquering Nagorno-Karabakh. And that we won’t accept,” Macron added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday Azerbaijan “had to take matters into its own hands” and that “Turkey will continue to stand with…Azerbaijan with all its resources and heart.”

Asked about Armenia’s claim that a Turkish fighter jet had shot down one of its warplanes, denied by Turkey, Macron said he had no proof of regional players being involved so far and preferred to remain prudent until facts have been established.

Macron said he would discuss the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday evening and with US President Donald Trump on Thursday.

Echoing remarks by Erdoğan, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Wednesday Turkey would “do what is necessary” when asked whether Ankara would offer military support if Azerbaijan asked for it.

Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, later thanked Turkey for its support but said his country did not need military assistance. Fighting would cease if Armenian forces immediately “leave our lands,” he said.

Cavusoglu also said French solidarity with Armenia amounted to supporting Armenian occupation in Azerbaijan.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was willing to host the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan for talks, his ministry cited him as saying.

He held separate phone conversations with both foreign ministers, and the ministry said he called for a ceasefire and a halt to “provocative warlike rhetoric”.

Lavrov said Russia would continue to work both independently and together with other representatives of the Minsk group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to mediate in the conflict.

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