Stability in southern Caucasus crucial for region: Turkish FM

Turkey believes stability in the southern Caucasus is crucial for the people of the region, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Wednesday.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum on June 18-20, Çavuşoğlu said that establishing stability in the southern Caucasus would also bring prosperity.

“Armenian people would especially benefit from this,” he told journalists.

Noting that the Armenian state has isolated itself in the region, Çavuşoğlu said the country has had hostile relations with most of its neighbors. He noted that the panel on the southern Caucasus will discuss opportunities for peace and stability in the region since the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

“I hope Armenia learns a lesson from its experience and that peace and stability persist in the region,” Çavuşoğlu said.

“Azerbaijani lands were under occupation for 30 years. The heroic Azerbaijani army took its lands back with a struggle that lasted for more than 40 days. Azerbaijan persevered to solve this problem through diplomacy for many years. Now that the war is over, opportunities for regional peace will be discussed in this panel.”

“Everyone should respect its territorial integrity. We want this region to be a region of peace and stability,” he added.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but was under Armenian occupation since a separatist war there ended in 1994. That conflict left the predominantly Armenian populated Nagorno-Karabakh region and substantial surrounding territories in Yerevan’s hands. Heavy fighting erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan in late September 2020 in the biggest escalation of the decades-old conflict, killing more than 5,600 people on both sides.

A Russia-brokered agreement ended the recent fighting in which the Azerbaijani army routed Armenia’s forces. The cease-fire deal stipulated that Yerevan hand over some areas it held outside Nagorno-Karabakh’s borders. Baku also retained control over the areas of Nagorno-Karabakh that it had taken during the armed conflict.

Antalya forum to boost Turkey’s diplomatic prestige

Meanwhile, Çavuşoğlu noted that Turkey will use the Antalya Diplomacy Forum as a means to strengthen the country’s diplomatic prestige both in the field and at the table.

The forum will consist of 15 sessions attended by world leaders, touching upon regional, global and thematic issues.

This year’s theme will be “Innovative Diplomacy: New Era, New Approaches” and aims to address diplomacy-related issues through a visionary liberal and innovative approach.

“Although most of our participants consist of officials, we do not expect them to make official statements,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that they want the forum to be a liberal platform reflecting different perspectives.

Twelve heads of state, 43 foreign ministers, four former heads of state and around 50 representatives from international organizations have confirmed their attendance in the forum, according to Çavuşoğlu.