ANKARA, September 25. /TASS/. Azerbaijan was forced to conduct its counterterrorism operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday after talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev.
"Regrettably, nothing was done to alleviate Azerbaijan’s concerns in Karabakh. So it was forced to conduct this operation. This Azerbaijani victory has opened the door for full-fledged normalization in the region. I am convinced that we must capitalize on this opportunity. We expect Armenia to respond to the olive branch extended to it and take steps in good faith," the TRT television channel quoted him as saying.
"There are no losers when a peaceful solution is found. Our duty to our people is to ensure peace, tranquility, and prosperity in the region. We are determined to carry out this duty. And we want our vis-a-vis to demonstrate similar sincerity," he said, adding that Azerbaijan’s operation "was held in a very short time and with maximal care for the [security of the] civilian population."
On September 19, tensions flared up again in Nagorno-Karabakh. Baku announced it was launching what it described as "local anti-terrorist measures" and demanded the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the region. Yerevan, in turn, said there were no Armenian forces in Karabakh, calling what was happening "an act of large-scale aggression." Residents of the Armenian capital took to the streets to protest outside the Armenian government building, blaming the country’s leadership and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan for the situation.
Russia called on the conflicting sides to prevent civilian casualties and return to a diplomatic solution. On September 20, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry announced that an agreement had been reached in coordination with the Russian peacekeeping contingent to suspend the anti-terrorist operation in Nagorno-Karabakh. On September 21, representatives of Baku and the Armenian population of Karabakh met in the Azerbaijani city of Yevlakh "to discuss reintegration issues." Karabakh residents began evacuating to Armenia on September 24.