Turkey, Russia launch talks for Karabakh peace mission
Senior military officials and diplomats from Turkey and Russia have launched talks for the creation of a joint center to monitor a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh after an agreement reached between Azerbaijan and Armenia and to determine its working procedures and exact location.
A 20-member Russian delegation arrived in Ankara early Nov. 13 and held meetings with their Turkish counterparts first at the Foreign Ministry and then at the Defense Ministry. Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal hosted the Russian delegation at a working luncheon before technical talks for the joint observation center began at the Defense Ministry.
“The objective we are trying to achieve in Azerbaijan is to make the ceasefire permanent, to provide stability and peace, to spread prosperity and to open borders. Nobody should have eyes on the other’s interests,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told a parliamentary panel late Nov. 12 while explaining the Turkish-Russian joint mission.
“We will discuss with the Russian delegation the tactical and technical points concerning who will be located to where and etc.,” Akar said.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu signed a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of a joint mission to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan in line with Nov. 9 agreement between the two rival countries.
As a result of a six-week armed conflict, Armenia accepted the defeat and promised to withdraw from the Azerbaijani territories it has been occupying since the early 1990s. Russia has brokered the deal and will play a crucial role in Nagorno-Karabakh with the deployment of a 2,000-strong peace force.
Article 5 of the deal stipulates the need to observe the ceasefire which will be carried out by Turkish and Russian forces.
According to the press reports, Turkey will deploy its drones to observe the ceasefire along the new Line of Contact in Nagorno-Karabakh, while the Russians will also have a ground observation mission.
In an interview on Nov. 12, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested that the mobility of Turkish observers will be limited by the geographic coordinates of the Russian-Turkish monitoring center which will be located away from Nagorno-Karabakh.
“The center will operate exclusively remotely, using live monitoring and recording systems, such as drones and other technology, to monitor the situation on the ground in Nagorno-Karabakh, primarily on the contact line, and to determine which party violates and which party complies with the terms of the ceasefire and termination of hostilities. The boundaries of the Turkish observers’ mobility will be limited to the premises that are to be set up on the territory of Azerbaijan, not in the zone of the former conflict,” he said.
Ultimate decision to be made by Baku
Although necessary military and technical works to set up the joint monitoring mission will be conducted by Turkey and Russia, a final decision about the modalities and working procedures will be made by Azerbaijani authorities as the host nation.
The joint Turkish and Russian working group is expected to inform the results of their work and draft modalities on a visit to Baku once they conclude the bilateral meetings. It’s expected that the Turkish Parliament will authorize the government to deploy troops to Azerbaijan in line with article 92 of the Turkish Constitution.
Syria also discussed
Along with Nagorno-Karabakh, the Turkish-Russian delegations have also reviewed the latest situation in Idlib province of Syria where they continue to monitor the cessation of hostilities since March.
Turkey has recently re-located some of its observation spots in the southern skirts of Idlib which were established as a result of the Sochi Agreement in 2018.