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Turkey warns Armenia to accept ‘hand of peace’ 

The chair of the Turkish Parliament’s Defence Committee, Hulusi Akar, during a visit to Baku on 31 January 2024. Image via Azertac.

Turkey has warned Armenia that it would suffer ‘serious damages’ if it failed to secure a peace treaty with Azerbaijan. 

The comments came from the chair of the Turkish Parliament’s Defence Committee, Hulusi Akar, during a visit to Baku on Monday. ‘[Armenia] should accept the hand of peace extended by Azerbaijan, otherwise it will suffer serious damages just like in the 2020 war’, he said. Akar previously served as minister of defence and the chief of staff of the Turkish armed forces.

In response, Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanyan told Armenian Public TV that Turkey could play a more constructive role by implementing an agreement to open the land border between the two countries for citizens of third countries and diplomatic passport holders. 

The comments came as tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan continue to ratchet, with the peace process that began following the end of the 2020 Second Nagorno-Karabakh war dragging on.

On Saturday, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov told local journalists that Azerbaijan had received Armenia’s latest peace proposals at the beginning of January, and was still preparing a response.

On Sunday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan suggested the countries sign a non-aggression pact ‘if it turns out that signing a peace treaty will take longer than expected’.

He also repeated an offer to create a mutual arms control mechanism, in response to criticism from Azerbaijan of Armenia purchasing weaponry from France and India.

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During his visit to Baku, Akar repeated such criticisms, claiming that certain countries were trying to equip Armenia as a ‘proxy state’.

On 29 January, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aykhan Hajizade dismissed Pashinyan’s latest proposals as a distraction.

‘It is political manipulation to claim that Armenia takes a serious approach to the peace process’, he said, ‘taking into account that his country is pursuing a policy of serious militarisation, several billion-dollar arms supply contracts have been signed in recent years, and it has developed its military industry’. 

‘Azerbaijan, in its turn, will continue its peace and construction efforts and expects Armenia to take adequate steps, not only in words but also in deeds’, he said.

‘Not a humanitarian move’

As peace talks have appeared to have stalled, diplomatic spats between the two countries have continued to appear.

On 25 January, Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) announced that Armenia would be transferring eight landmine logbooks to Azerbaijan as a confidence-building measure. They said these were discovered as part of their interviews with former military personnel from Nagorno-Karabakh.

The NSS stated that Armenia had transferred around 972 maps containing the locations of landmines throughout 2021 ‘without preconditions’ and that ‘there are simply no better quality maps at Armenia’s disposal’. 

Later that day, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry stated Armenia’s intention was ‘not a humanitarian one and this step could not be considered a confidence-building measure’.

They added that the maps they had received from Armenia in the past were only 25% accurate and ‘incomplete’.

‘We have frequently pointed out that the provided maps are ineffective, incomplete, and do not accurately portray the reality on the ground’, read the ministry’s statement.

They called on Yerevan to ‘submit accurate maps’ and to provide information on the ‘fate of nearly 4,000 Azerbaijanis who have disappeared over the past 30 years, as well as the places of mass graves where Azerbaijanis are buried’.

In response, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry accused Azerbaijan of ‘continuing to manipulate the topic’, and ‘turning Armenia’s positive move into an occasion for escalation and negative rhetoric’. 

The NSS also said they had previously provided information on Azerbaijanis who remain missing and said they were willing to cooperate on this matter further.

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