Ankara says it will continue to stand with Azerbaijan as clashes with Armenia intensify over occupied Karabakh as Minsk Group members urge the Caucasus neighbours to resume talks.

A still image from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry shows what is said to be an armoured military hardware destroyed by Azerbaijani armed forces in occupied Karabakh on September 29, 2020.
A still image from a video released by Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry shows what is said to be an armoured military hardware destroyed by Azerbaijani armed forces in occupied Karabakh on September 29, 2020. (Reuters)

The only solution to the occupied Karabakh problem and ongoing clashes in the region is the withdrawal of Armenian forces from Azerbaijani territories, Turkey has reiterated. 

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that Ankara will continue to stand with Baku "on the battlefield, and at the negotiation table" and wants to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh issue with Yerevan conclusively.

"We always stand with brotherly Azerbaijan as they always side with Turkey," he said, adding that they are determined to solve the dispute completely.

Cavusoglu's remarks followed a discussion with German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass, who also urged both sides to end the clashes. 

The US and France both want to open Minsk Group talks to solve the dispute.

Ankara slams 'neutrality principle'

Both sides said they inflicted heavy losses as fighting raged for a third day on Tuesday over Armenia-occupied Karabakh.

Urgent calls from world leaders for a halt to the fierce clashes that erupted on Sunday have gone unheeded by the ex-Soviet rivals, who have been locked in the dispute for decades.

The UN Security Council was scheduled to meet on Tuesday over the Karabakh conflict, where intense fighting in the last few days has caused nearly 100 confirmed deaths.

"In the name of acting with the so-called neutrality principle or for the sake of observing the political balance, the mistake of equating the aggressor and the victim should not be made," said Turkey's Communication Director Fahrettin Altun.

Turkey is a key ally of Baku with close cultural and linguistic ties with Azerbaijan.

Ankara has no diplomatic relations with Yerevan.

READ MORE: Fierce clashes continue for third day in occupied Karabakh

Minsk Group talks

The EU, Russia, and NATO, among others, have urged an immediate halt to clashes along the frontier.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged both sides to cease hostilities, and called them to "work with the Minsk Group co-chairs and return to substantive negotiations as quickly as possible".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, spoke on the phone with presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia and called for a peaceful solution, the government spokesman said.

"The Chancellor has underlined the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire and return to the negotiation table," Steffen Seibert said, adding that Germany supports diplomatic efforts of OSCE Minsk Group.

"We will trigger in the coming days coordination of the Minsk Group to clear up what happened, who is responsible and find a way out," an official at President Emmanuel Macron's office said.

Also on Tuesday, Russia urged its ally Turkey to work to bring an end to deadly clashes in the region.

"We call on all sides, especially partner countries such as Turkey to do all they can for a ceasefire and get back to a peaceful settlement of this conflict using political and diplomatic means," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

The Minsk Group is led by Russia, France, and the United States and mediates between Armenia and Azerbaijan - to try to resolve an escalating conflict between the two South Caucasus countries.

READ MORE: Nagorno-Karabakh: A war between Armenia and Azerbaijan is dangerously close

Long-standing dispute 

Azerbaijan reported on Sunday that the Armenian forces had targeted Azerbaijani civilian settlements and military positions, leading to casualties.

Azerbaijan's parliament declared a state of war in some of its cities and regions following Armenia's border violations and attacks in the occupied region.

Relations between the two former Soviet nations have been tense since 1993 when Armenian forces occupied Upper Karabakh, or occupied Karabakh, an internationally-recognised territory of Azerbaijan.

Four UN Security Council and two UN General Assembly resolutions, as well as many international organisations, demand the withdrawal of the occupying Armenian forces.

The occupied Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan after a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives.

It is not recognised by any country – including Armenia – and is still considered part of Azerbaijan by the international community. 

READ MORE: What’s Iran’s role in the Armenia-Azerbaijan clash?

Source: TRTWorld and agencies