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30 Jan, 2021 21:57

Creating conditions for ‘lasting peace’: Joint Russian-Turkish peace monitoring center starts work in disputed Nagorno-Karabakh

Creating conditions for ‘lasting peace’: Joint Russian-Turkish peace monitoring center starts work in disputed Nagorno-Karabakh

A joint monitoring center has been opened by Russia and Turkey in the Nagorno-Karabakh region disputed by Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is tasked with recording all truce violations and contacting both sides if necessary.

The center has been established in the eastern part of the disputed Karabakh region, control over which as been handed over to Baku under the terms of the Moscow-brokered armistice signed in November 2020. Both Russia and Turkey would send 60 soldiers each to serve at the center.

The opening ceremony was attended by the Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov as well Russian and Turkish deputy defense ministers. The center has become a result of “close cooperation” between Moscow and Ankara, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister, Aleksandr Fomin said during the ceremony, adding that its establishment is aimed at creating “favorable conditions for a lasting peace” in the region that has been a subject of a bitter territorial dispute for decades.

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The center would collect and verify information about any truce violations in Nagorno-Karabakh and would monitor the situation in the area. It will also have direct communication links to both Armenian and Azerbaijani military command as well as to the Russian peacekeeping force in the region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijani leader, Ilham Aliyev, have discussed the establishment of the center in a phone call on Friday. Both leaders welcomed the development and expressed their hopes that its work would further stabilize the situation in the disputed region, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Nagorno-Karabakh has seen a bloody conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan last year. The hostilities that broke out in September claimed thousands of lives and ended only in November after Moscow managed to persuade Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders to agree to halt the fighting. Turkey has been a staunch supporter of Baku throughout the conflict, and has offered manpower and equipment to turn the tide of the war in its favor. 

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The area has been a bone of contention between the South Caucasus neighbors for decades, and they had already fought a bloody war over it between 1988 and 1994.

As part of the November truce, Russian peacekeepers moved into Nagorno-Karabakh to separate the warring sides and curb any possible provocations. The Russian military also set up a humanitarian response center in Stepanakert, the de facto capital of the disputed region.

With control over some areas in Nagorno-Karabakh being passed to Azerbaijan as part of the armistice, the 6km-long mountain pass known as the Lachin Corridor, remains the only route connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia. The Russian peacekeepers will be protecting it for at least the next five years.

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