November 29th, 2020

Turkish parliament approves peacekeepers for Azerbaijan


By The Associated Press on November 17, 2020.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives to address the lawmakers of his ruling party at the parliament, in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. Erdogan said a memorandum of understanding was signed earlier on Wednesday toward the creation of a joint Turkish-Russian peacekeeping center in Azerbaijani territories that were "liberated from occupation." (Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)

ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey’s parliament on Tuesday granted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government permission to deploy peacekeepers to Azerbaijan to monitor a cease-fire deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia that aims to end the conflict in the region.

In a show of hands, legislators voted in favour of a one-year mandate allowing the government to send troops to Azerbaijan, where they would observe possible violations of the truce from a joint Turkish-Russian monitoring centre. The cease-fire ended six weeks of intense fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Erdogan’s government would determine the number of troops to be sent and it wasn’t immediately clear how many the country planned to deploy. The motion states that civilian personnel could also be deployed as part of the peacekeeping mission.

Last week, the defence ministers of Russia and Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding to create a joint monitoring centre in Azerbaijan, although technical details of the mission are still being worked out.

Azerbaijan has been pressing for its ally Turkey, which has backed in in the conflict, to take an active role in the peace talks and was the first to announce its involvement in the monitoring of the cease-fire agreement.

Russian officials have said that Ankara’s involvement will be limited to the work of the monitoring centre on Azerbaijani soil, and Turkish peacekeepers wouldn’t go to Nagorno-Karabakh. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said the centre will operate remotely, using drones and other technical means to monitor possible violations.

Russia, which negotiated the cease-fire, is sending about 2,000 peacekeeping troops under a five-year mandate.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.

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