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The Turkish Grand National Assembly (parliament) has given the go-ahead for the deployment of troops in Azerbaijan to join the Russian peacekeeping mission at the joint observation center, of which the venue is to be identified by Baku.
Russia has already stationed 1,960-men peacekeeping mission to Nagorno-Karabakh. This happened on November 10 when Russian-brokered trilateral statement was signed by Armenia and Azerbaijan to bring an end to the 44-day war that resulted in the capitulation of Armenia in the hands of the Azerbaijani army armed with ultra-modern weapons.
Under the mandate, endorsed by the Turkish parliament, the mission will initially last a year. In remarks about the deployment of the Turkish mission to Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opined that the military mission will contribute to peace and prosperity of the regional people.
The letter by the Turkish president, attached to the motion submitted to the parliament, said that the presence of Turkish troops along with civilian personnel if needed will be to the benefit of peace and prosperity of the regional people and necessary for Turkey’s national interests.
The OSCE Minsk Group with the mandate to hammer out a lasting solution to the conflict, co-chaired by Moscow, Paris and Washington, is to end its unaccomplished mission in utter fiasco and was repeatedly excoriated by Baku for the failure to cope with its mission and inability to make Armenia to withdraw troops from Azerbaijani territories it kept under occupation more or less 30 years.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar opined that Ankara and Moscow’s cooperation would continue for the benefit of the region. Moscow repeatedly said that Ankara’s role would be limited to the joint monitoring on Azerbaijani soil but it remains to be seen how the Turkish peacekeeping mission will roll out in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Russian foreign minister said the centre would function remotely, using drones and other technical means to monitor possible violations.
Turkey’s peacekeeping mission is soon to start in Karabakh. Prior to submitting the motion to the Turkish parliament, Russian and Turkish Defense Ministers Sergei Shoigu and Hulusi Akar respectively signed a memorandum on establishing a joint center to control the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Turkey will take part in the process of monitoring and controlling the agreements on Karabakh. The Turkish military will operate as part of a joint peacekeeping mission,” Hulusu Akar said.
For his turn, Sergei Shoigu said that the decision to create a joint monitoring center will allow reliable control over the observance of the cessation of the hostilities by the parties and will form a solid grounds for resolving the long-standing conflict.
In a comment on the issue, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reminded that the talk was about developments to take place on Azernaijan’s sovereign territory irrespective of who reside there.
“If we are talking about Karabakh, then all this is the territory of Azerbaijan. Since Azerbaijan is the owner, respecting its rights, centers and departments for monitoring compliance with the ceasefire regime will be located where Azerbaijan considers it necessary.”
Pundits for their part in their comments point out something else. The agreements, signed between Moscow and Ankara, are only the beginning of a peacekeeping mission, designed for five years. But the main thing has already been done: a political mechanism for making decisions on a peacekeeping operation has been laid. The details of which are being discussed today in the Baku-Ankara-Moscow triangle and this already requires analyses and comments.
We should recall that though Turkey is the only country that borders on all three states of the South Caucasus: Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, Ankara was kept as far away as possible from the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Now Turkey is not just expressing its opinion and discussing on this issue with Azerbaijan, it is becoming a key participant in the settlement process.
Moreover, now the place of the Minsk Group, which acted in the style of “swan, crayfish and pike”, is being replaced by the “2 plus 2” format proposed by Azerbaijan. Plus, this format comes into effect not at the stage of conversations and appeals, like the “Normand format” in Donbass, but in a situation where the political contours of a settlement have already been determined: the complete restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, the withdrawal of Armenian troops and no “special status ”for Nagorno-Karabakh.
The point is not only that as a result of these agreements and advances, Karabakh is the only conflict in the South Caucasus and the entire post-Soviet space with a multilateral peacekeeping mission. Now the situation is changing radically. Turkey has staked out for itself not only participation in political decision-making on Karabakh, but also a military presence, and also monitoring the progress of the peacekeeping operation and the observance of the ceasefire regime. Judging by the leaked details, at least it is possible that this involves not only telephone communications and reports, but also surveillance from drones.
This means that the military-political presence of Turkey in the region is reaching a new – and unprecedented – level. These are no longer rumors, not leaks and not questions like, “but we saw Turkish soldiers in Baku”. From now on, Turkish servicemen are present in the conflict zone quite officially, with an international mandate and on the basis of an impeccable legal framework and this is another result of the military victory of Azerbaijan.