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21 Nov, 2023 00:35

NATO member warns ex-Soviet state about the West

Armenia should trust its neighbors over faraway “friends,” Turkish President Erdogan has said
NATO member warns ex-Soviet state about the West

Armenia should work with Türkiye and Azerbaijan to build peace instead of looking to the West for weapons and training, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday in a thinly veiled criticism of the US and France.

Some Western powers have yet to realize that the Karabakh War has changed the Caucasus and the entire region, Erdogan said in a press conference after a lengthy cabinet meeting in Ankara. He was referring to last month’s epilogue to the 2020 conflict, which saw Azerbaijan reclaim the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, followed by the exodus of local ethnic Armenians.

“Those who incited Armenia for years and collected profit from the pain, troubles and conflicts of all the people living in this region actually inflicted the greatest damage on the Armenians,” Erdogan said. While he did not name any names, the most prominent supporters of Yerevan in the West have been Paris and Washington.

“They abused Armenians, used them, and condemned them to insecurity by fueling unrealistic dreams. Armenia now needs to see and accept this fact,” Erdogan added.

It is better for the Armenian people and rulers to seek security in peace and cooperation with their neighbors, not thousands of kilometers away. 

“No weapons and ammunition sent by Western countries can replace the peace that a permanent peace environment will provide,” Erdogan added, urging Armenia to “accept the hand of peace extended by our Azerbaijani brothers.”

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has sought to forge closer ties with NATO in the aftermath of the Karabakh conflict, the outcome of which he tried to blame on the country's ally Russia. Both Moscow and Yerevan are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

Earlier this month, Armenia's deputy defense minister and chief of the general staff, Lieutenant-General Edvard Asryan, visited the US European Command HQ in Stuttgart, Germany. The visit was a “milestone” as the US and Armenia sought to “deliberately and incrementally develop our defense relationship,” EUCOM said in a statement afterward.

Yerevan has also reached out to Paris, making a deal last month to purchase unspecified new weapons systems from France. This has prompted Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev to declare that France would be responsible for any new conflict in the region. Aliyev also pulled out of the EU-hosted peace summit in Grenada in early October, accusing the bloc of hostility towards Baku.

Moscow has protested Armenia’s “hostile” actions and argued that there was nothing it could do to intervene in Nagorno-Karabakh, particularly after Pashinyan himself had explicitly and repeatedly recognized Azeri sovereignty over the disputed region.