Macron and Turkey spar over Karabakh conflict

Macron and Turkey spar over Karabakh conflict
2 min read
30 September, 2020
French President Emmanuel Macron condemned Turkey's statements backing Azerbaijan as armed conflict with Armenia over the region of Nagorny Karabakh escalated.
Turkey and France have disagreements in the energy-rich eastern Mediterranean, as well as Libya [Getty]

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday condemned what he called Turkey's "reckless and dangerous" statements backing Azerbaijan it its bid to take back the breakaway region of Nagorny Karabakh.

But Turkey fired back, accusing Macron of supporting Armenia's "occupation" of the region, where deadly fighting has raged since Sunday.

"I have noted Turkey's political statements which I think are reckless and dangerous," Macron told reporters in Latvia's capital Riga during a visit to the Baltic EU state.

"France remains extremely concerned about the bellicose comments that Turkey made in the last hours, which essentially remove any inhibitions from Azerbaijan in what would be a reconquest of northern Karabakh. That we will not accept," he added. 

He also appeared to voice support for Yerevan: "I say to Armenia and to the Armenians, France will play its role."

Turkey views majority-Muslim Azerbaijan as its close ally and Christian Armenia as its historic foe.

It also has a range of disagreements with France in the energy-rich eastern Mediterranean as well as Libya and parts of the Middle East.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the told the Anadolu state news agency that Ankara was not "categorically anti-France". 

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But when Macron "has no concerns about Azerbaijan's territories, his show of solidarity with Armenia means he supports the occupation", Cavusoglu said.

In Riga, Macron said he would discuss the Karabakh tensions with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday and US President Donald Trump on Thursday before reporting on the situation to EU leaders.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked for decades in a territorial dispute over Karabakh and have blamed each other for sparking clashes that have caused nearly 100 confirmed deaths since the weekend.

Armenia's defence ministry said Tuesday that a Turkish F-16 flying in support of Baku's forces had downed an Armenian SU-25 warplane. Both Turkey and Azerbaijan quickly denied the claim.

Direct Turkish military action against Armenia would mark a major escalation after three days of heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over Karabakh.

Russia also called on Turkey to stop proclaiming support for Azerbaijan and to work toward a diplomatic solution to the escalation, the deadliest since 2016.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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