Days after a peace deal over Nagorno-Karabakh was reached, Turkey has warned Armenia it will have to bear consequences if it violates the ceasefire.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in the Azeri capital Baku on Thursday: “If they [Armenia] violate the ceasefire, then they will pay the price for it.”
Ankara is Azerbaijan’s closest ally in the fight over Nagorno-Karabakh and has been celebrating the peace agreement reached earlier this week between Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia that favours Baku.
Armenia must “abide by the deal and withdraw voluntarily”, Cavusoglu added, warning Azerbaijan would otherwise resume its military action to “recapture Azerbaijani territories.”
Turkey and Russia agreed on Wednesday to jointly operate a centre to oversee peace in Nagorno-Karabakh.
A Russian delegation is set to visit Turkey on Friday to discuss details of how the joint centre will operate, Cavusoglu said, adding that unmanned armed drones would carry out surveillance missions in the region to ensure there are no violations.
“We will continue to stand by Azerbaijan and support them however they would like us to,” he added.
Russia is sending nearly 2,000 troops to the region to serve as peacekeepers.
On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would take part in what he called a “peace force” in the region.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, however, on Thursday said “no peacekeeping units of the Turkish Republic will be dispatched to Nagorno-Karabakh”, according to comments carried by Russian state news agency TASS.
Diplomats from France and the United States were expected in Moscow soon to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The Russia-brokered deal secured territorial advances for Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, where Azeri troops have been battling ethnic Armenian forces over the past six weeks in a fight that has killed more than 1,000 people, including dozens of civilians on both sides.
The accord has triggered protests in Armenia for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Armenia on Thursday arrested 10 leading opposition figures who were among the protests; they face up to a decade behind bars for their role in “illegal violent mass disorder”, prosecutors said in a statement.
The group had stormed and ransacked government buildings on Tuesday over Pashinyan’s agreement to end the fighting.
Prosecutors announced the arrests hours ahead of a fresh demonstration called by the opposition.
“We consider this to be an act of political persecution,” said Lilit Galstyan from the opposition Dashnaktsutyun party, which saw at least two of its members arrested.