Erdogan Vows Support to Baku against Armenia as West, Russia Urge Ceasefire
Turkey on Sunday vowed complete support for Baku and called on Armenia to give up its "aggression" after heavy fighting erupted in Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorny Karabakh.
The worst clashes since 2016 broke out on Sunday between arch-foes Azerbaijan and Armenia who have been locked for decades in a territorial dispute over Nagorny Karabakh.
Turkey is a key ally of Baku with close cultural and linguistic ties with Azerbaijan.
Ankara has no diplomatic relations with Yerevan due to a dispute over the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire which Armenia says is a genocide.
"The Turkish people will support our Azerbaijani brothers with all our means as always," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted.
He accused Armenia of "being the biggest threat in the region to peace and stability" and criticized the international community for failing to give the "necessary and sufficient reaction" to Armenia's "aggression."
Erdogan also said he held a phone call with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev during which he was "witness once again to his shrewd and determined position."
"The greatest obstacle to peace and stability in the Caucasus is Armenia's aggression, and it should give up this aggression which will throw the region into fire," Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin "strongly" condemned the clashes and said Armenia "once again violated international law."
He called on the international community to "say stop to this dangerous provocation" in a tweet.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov discussed the crisis on Sunday during a telephone conversation, a Turkish diplomatic source said, without giving details.
France meanwhile called for Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists fighting over the Nagorny Karabakh region to "immediately cease hostilities and resume dialogue."
France, along with Russia and the United States, has mediated peace efforts over the breakaway region as the "Minsk Group", but the last big push for a peace deal collapsed in 2010.
France, "with its Russian and American partners, reiterates its commitment to reach a negotiated and durable settlement to the conflict" with "respect for international law," the foreign ministry said in a statement, adding it was "deeply concerned about the large-scale confrontations."
European Council president Charles Michel for his part called for a halt to fighting and an "immediate return to negotiations."
"Military action must stop, as a matter of urgency, to prevent a further escalation," Michel tweeted, calling for "an immediate return to negotiations, without preconditions."
Russia meanwhile called for an immediate ceasefire and the start of talks. "We are calling on the sides to immediately halt fire and begin talks to stabilize the situation," the foreign ministry said.
Germany for its part called for an "immediate" halt to the fighting, saying the conflict can only be resolved through dialogue.
"I call on both parties to the conflict to immediately stop all hostilities, especially the shelling of villages and towns," Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement, voicing "alarm" at reports of civilian casualties.
He urged a return to talks to resolve the dispute over the breakaway region, saying that the so-called Minsk Group "stood ready" to help.
"The conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region can only be resolved through negotiations," added the German foreign minister, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency.