14-07-2020 10:08:11

“Turkey stands with Baku amid clashes with Armenia”

Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu, in a televised interview, called on Armenia to "pull its head together," saying that Turkey stands with Azerbaijan "with all it has." 

“What Armenia did is unacceptable,” Çavuşoğlu said. 

“The Azerbaijani army did what was necessary and repelled these attacks. 

“From this [incident], we see that by creating new conflict areas, Armenia wants to draw attention to other places, especially away from the lands it has [already] occupied,” he added. 

“Whatever solution Baku prefers for the occupied lands and Karabakh, we will stand by Azerbaijan,” he said.

Çavuşoğlu’s remarks came in the wake of Sunday border clash with Armenian troops in which four Azerbaijani soldiers were martyred and four injured. 

Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan, has been illegally occupied since 1991 through Armenian military aggression. 

On Twitter, Çavuşoğlu also posted a video of Azerbaijan’s National Anthem with the hashtag "We stand with you, Azerbaijan.” 

Hagia Sophia 

On Turkey's decision last week to turn Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia from a museum back into a mosque, Cavusoglu said Turkey strongly rejects comments that try to interfere in the country's sovereign rights on the decision. 

On Friday, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree that had turned Hagia Sophia into a museum, paving the way for its use as a mosque again after an 85-year hiatus. Before that, it had served as a mosque for nearly 500 years. 

Libya 

Çavuşoğlu also reiterated Turkey's hopes for a cease-fire in Libya, saying: "We believe that a political solution is the only solution, but the necessary conditions must be met." 

Asked if Libya is planning a military operation in the port city of Sirte, controlled by the forces of warlord Khalifa Haftar, Cavusoglu said that although there are preparations for an armed operation, there are efforts to solve the issue at the negotiating table. 

“We’re trying to make Haftar and the forces that support him withdraw,” he explained.

Çavuşoğlu said this had been discussed at a 5+5 meeting led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and attended by five people from the Government of National Accord (GNA) – Libya’s legitimate government – and five from Haftar’s forces. 

During these meetings, the al-Sarraj government suggested the conditions, he added. 

“When they return to the 2015 lines, they have to withdraw from both Sirte and Jufra,” he added. 

Çavuşoğlu highlighted the strategic importance of these cities, saying: “So they have to withdraw from them.” 

Turkey hopes for a withdrawal from these areas, a political process, and a permanent cease-fire, he added. 

“But this cease-fire should be permanent and binding this time,” he added. 

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. 

Libya's new government was founded in 2015 under a UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to the military offensive by warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces. 

The UN recognizes the Libyan government headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj as the country's legitimate authority.