Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Shushi (AzerTac photo)

Turkish President’s Visit to Shushi a New Attempt to Display Force, Artsakh MPs Say

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STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL and PanArmenian.net) — The presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey, Ilham Aliyev and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, signed on Tuesday, June 15 a declaration in Shushi on allied relations between the two states.

Aliyev described the document as “historic” and revealed that it concerns all areas of cooperation between the two countries, including in the field of defense.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s provocations are a challenge not only to Armenia and Artsakh, but also Russia and Iran, the factions represented in Artsakh’s National Assembly said in a statement on the occasion of Erdogan’s visit to Shushi on June 15.

“After the genocide of Western Armenians in 1915 and the occupation of the historical cradle of the Armenian people, Turkey has been trying to do the same to Eastern Armenians for the last hundred years,” the MPs said, adding that those plans have always failed due to the organized struggle of the Armenian people.

“Taking advantage of the favorable international and regional conditions, on September 27, 2020, Turkey and Azerbaijan, by treacherously attacking the Artsakh Republic with the involvement of international terrorist groups, again tried to subject Armenians to genocide,” the statement reads.

Thousands of people were deprived of their homeland, destroyed, and hundreds of national-Christian monuments were desecrated due to the forcible deportation of the Armenian population from its historical homeland.

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“We view Erdogan’s uninvited visit to the occupied territories of Artsakh, particularly the once prosperous capital of Shushi, as a threat and a new attempt to display force. It is a continuation of the opening of the “trophy park” in Baku, which implies the adoption of new policy of psychological and moral pressures on the Armenian people in the post-war period,” the National Assembly said.

“Erdogan’s provocative action is an attempt to thwart Russia’s peacekeeping activities in the region, a devilish plan to shatter the fragile stability,” the MPs said, adding that “such a step by the President of Turkey is a new challenge not only to Armenia and Artsakh, but also to Russia and Iran.”

They appeal to international structures – the OSCE Minsk Group Ci-Chairs, particularly the Russian Federation – to curb Turkey’s aggressive aspirations, which are fraught with new dangers.

They also call on all Armenians to unite to resist these new challenges in these difficult days.

Armenia similarly strongly condemned the joint visit of the Presidents of Turkey and Azerbaijan to Shushi as “an outright provocation against regional peace and security.”

The Foreign Ministry of Armenia noted that the trip was preceded by the destruction of the religious, historical and cultural heritage of the forcibly displaced indigenous Armenian population, including the desecration of the St. Holy Savior Ghazanchetsots Cathedral targeted by the Turkish-Azerbaijani forces during and after the war against Artsakh, as well as the complete destruction of the memorial commemorating the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

“Such actions of the Turkish and Azerbaijani authorities, aimed at consolidating the consequences of the use of force against the people of Artsakh, significantly undermine the international efforts to establish stability in the region and are utterly unacceptable. Restoration of the rights of the Armenians of Artsakh, which includes de-occupation of the territories of the Republic of Artsakh and safe return of the displaced population, is essential for overcoming the Turkish-Azerbaijani genocidal threat against the Armenian people,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“These provocative actions clearly reveal the false and misleading nature of the statements coming from the official Ankara and Baku on their intentions to normalize the relations with Armenia and the Armenian people.

“We once again emphasize that the elimination of the consequences of the recent Turkish-Azerbaijani aggression against Artsakh should be undertaken within the comprehensive settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship.”

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