Turkey seeks approval to deploy peacekeepers in Azerbaijan

Russia, which is deploying troops to Nagorno-Karabakh to oversee the peace deal, previously said Turkish troops would not be joining them.

Residents look at burning houses in the village of Charektar outside the town of Kalbajar. [Alexander Nemenov/AFP]

Turkey’s government has submitted a motion to parliament, seeking its approval to deploy peacekeepers to monitor a ceasefire agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the state-run news agency reported.

Turkey, which threw its weight behind its ally Azerbaijan in the conflict, has been engaged in talks with Russia for a role in monitoring the ceasefire that ended six weeks of intense fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Russian and Turkish defence ministers signed a memorandum last week to create a joint monitoring centre in Azerbaijan.

The bill submitted to the parliament on Monday requests a one-year mandate to send Turkish peacekeepers, adding that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would determine the number of troops to be sent.

The motion is expected to be debated in the coming days. It states that civilian personnel could also be deployed as part of the peacekeeping mission.

“It has been assessed that for the Turkish Armed Forces personnel … to take part in the Joint Center which Turkey and Russia will form together, will be beneficial for the peace and welfare of the region’s people and is necessary from the point of our national interests,” state-run Anadolu Agency wrote, quoting the motion.

Russian officials have said that Ankara’s involvement will be limited to the work of the monitoring centre on Azerbaijani soil, and Turkish peacekeepers would not 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 ceasefire, is sending about 2,000 peacekeeping troops under a five-year mandate.

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

Armenian PM calls for calm after attempt on his life

In a separate development, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – who signed the deal with Azerbaijan, fuelling rage in his country – called on Monday for a halt to violence after reports of an attempt on his life.

After the deal was announced, thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Armenian capital Yerevan, calling Pashinyan a “traitor” and demanding his resignation. Protesters also stormed government buildings.

“Today I clearly stated that violence or the provoking of violence (especially armed violence) cannot in any way be a means of action for the government,” Pashinyan said on Facebook.

Pashinyan said he expected the opposition to also declare that it did not back “any violent action”.

Authorities on Saturday said they had thwarted a plot to assassinate the prime minister and arrested opposition leader Artur Vanetsyan, the former head of Armenia’s security services.

Vanetsyan, leader of the centre-right “Homeland” party, was released on Sunday after a court ruled that his detention lacked legal grounds.

A dozen opposition leaders were detained last week for inciting riots but were also released by courts.

Source: News Agencies