The ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan “would not have happened without Turkey’s intervention,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told Al Arabiya on Saturday.
“We need to acknowledge this war would not have happened without Turkey’s intervention. It’s now obvious and proven that Turkey recruited mercenaries and terrorists and transported them from Syria to Azerbaijan, to unleash the offensive,” he said.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in an armed conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region since September 27.
Azerbaijan is backed by Turkey while Armenia has an ongoing military treaty with Russia, although Moscow also sells arms to Baku and has been more measured in its response than Turkey.
“We will support our Azerbaijani brothers with all our means in their fight to protect their territorial integrity,” said Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar in a statement in response to the outbreak of the fighting.
The prime minister accused Turkey of sending mercenaries from Syria to Azerbaijan, adding that the offensive was part of the Turkish “expansionist policy” to restore the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East.
“I think we need to view all of this in the frameworks of the expansionist policy that Turkey is occurring out in the Mediterranean Sea, in Libya, Syria, Iraq. And this is basically an attempt, a policy of reinstating, restoring the Ottoman Empire,” Pashinyan told Al Arabiya.
Turkey has repeatedly denied claims it was sending Syrian fighters to the disputed territory but said it would not hesitate to send military support to Azerbaijan if it was requested.
Pashinyan called for an end to the fighting, saying that Armenia has “always been ready to negotiate, we are always ready to negotiate.”