Turkish Press: There is historic opportunity to forge peace in South Caucasus, says Turkish defense chief

Nov 28 2023

There is historic opportunity to forge peace in South Caucasus, says Turkish defense chief

Türkiye believes path to regional peace is through comprehensive peace agreement signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia, says national defense minister

There is an opportunity to establish peace in the South Caucasus, the Turkish national defense minister said on Monday, but added that so far Armenia has passed this up.

"Although they have a historical opportunity to establish peace, tranquility and cooperation in the South Caucasus, we see that Armenia has not been able to adequately utilize this historical opportunity," Guler said at a meeting with his Azerbaijani and Georgian counterparts in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital.

Guler met with Azerbaijan’s Zakir Hasanov and Georgia’s Juansher Burchuladze to discuss regional defense issues and defense cooperation.

Türkiye will continue its solidarity with Azerbaijan and Georgia for the sake of peace and stability in the region, Guler said.

"We have supported the negotiation process between Azerbaijan and Armenia from the beginning and continue to do so," he stressed.

"We believe that the path to regional peace and stability is through a comprehensive peace agreement signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia."

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

Most of the territory was liberated by Azerbaijan during a war in the fall of 2020, which ended after a Russian-brokered peace agreement and also opened the door to normalization.

This September, the Azerbaijani army launched an anti-terrorism operation in Karabakh to establish constitutional order in the region, after which illegal separatist forces in the region surrendered.

Having established full sovereignty in the region, Azerbaijan then urged the Armenian population in Karabakh to become part of Azerbaijani society.

Türkiye believes that a lasting peace in the South Caucasus can only be achieved through a comprehensive and permanent peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Turning to the Black Sea region, Guler said: "We believe that turning the Black Sea into an area of strategic competition and further escalation of tension should be avoided."

*Writing by Diyar Guldogan from Washington