President Erdogan visits Azerbaijan after Karabakh victory
President Erdoğan visited Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan on Monday where he was warmly welcomed by Ilham Aliyev, who led his country to a victory against the Armenian separatists of Karabakh last week
Baku: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made a spontaneous visit on Monday to the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan. Announced one day before, the visit comes on the heels of Azerbaijan’s successful counterterrorism operation in Karabakh, a region regained from Armenia which, last week, was cleared of Armenian separatists.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev welcomed Erdoğan in an official ceremony before the two leaders headed for talks. The purpose of Erdoğan’s visit is the inauguration of a pipeline between Türkiye’s Iğdır and Nakchivan, and two leaders are also expected to attend the opening of a military complex in the exclave. Nakchivan, which shares Azerbaijan’s only land border with Türkiye, is surrounded by Armenian territories. So, Erdoğan’s visit was symbolic in the aftermath of the victory against Armenian separatists. Azerbaijan and Türkiye are the most intimate allies in the region, with their intertwined history as two Turkic nations. Erdoğan further advanced ties thanks to his close friendship with Aliyev. Two leaders call each other “brothers,” and Türkiye is the most outspoken advocate of Azerbaijan’s rights over Karabakh, forcibly taken by Armenia after the collapse of the USSR.
Karabakh has been quiet after last week’s operation, but Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry announced on Monday that two Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and another was injured when their military truck hit an antitank land mine planted by Armenian forces in the region. It was the deaths of several Azerbaijani soldiers by a land mine that prompted Azerbaijan to launch a counterterrorism offensive against separatists.
The Azerbaijan military truck struck the mine at 5.35 p.m. local time on Sunday, the ministry said in a statement.
Two soldiers, Ekrem Shadmanov and Tural Seyidov, were killed, and Elvin Aliyev was injured in the explosion of an antitank mine planted by Armenian forces on the route between Azerbaijani positions for terrorist purposes. Aliyev is not in critical condition, the statement added. Some social media posts show Shadmanov was promoted to staff colonel in the Azerbaijani army before the incident. An investigation has been launched into the incident, and the general public has been warned not to enter liberated areas until the region has been cleared of mines.
Mines planted by Armenian forces have killed several Azerbaijani civilians and soldiers in recent years.
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Karabakh, internationally recognized as an Azerbaijani territory and seven adjacent regions. When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, the Armenian Army attacked civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements. During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the nearly three-decade occupation.
Despite the deal ending the conflict, the Armenian Army several times violated the agreement and martyred several Azerbaijani soldiers and a civilian, as well as wounded a few people, according to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.
Azerbaijani officials and a delegation of Armenian separatists held their second meeting following the counterterrorism operation on Monday. Officials of the two sides, who first met in Azerbaijan’s Yevlakh, held their second meeting in the town of Khojaly. On Tuesday, Brussels will host senior envoys from Azerbaijan and Armenia, the European Union said.
Simon Mordue, chief diplomatic advisor to European Council president Charles Michel, will chair the talks, Michel’s spokesperson said. Azerbaijan and Armenia, along with EU heavyweights France and Germany, will be represented by their national security advisors. The EU special representative for the South Caucasus, Estonian diplomat Toivo Klaar, will also attend.
Tuesday’s meeting in Brussels will be the first such encounter since the offensive, but the leaders of both countries are scheduled to meet next month. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Aliyev will be at the European Political Community summit in the Spanish city of Granada on Oct. 5.
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