Armenia warns Turkey against destabilising the region following Nagorno-Karabakh clashes

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan has accused Turkey of attempting to increase instability in the region in an interview with Russian news agency Interfax on Monday.

Mnatsakanyan's remarks follow Armenian border clashes with Azerbaijan in July, which left 16 dead. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemned Armenia over the clashes, calling Yerevan´s moves in the region “reckless.”

At the same time, Mnatsakanyan said that he was ready to meet with his Azerbaijani counterpart, and that “the peaceful negotiation process has been and remains an important priority for us to resolve this conflict”.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have engaged in sporadic conflicts since a ceasefire was brokered by Russia in 1994, ending the Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988-1994). Russia is widely seen to be the main supporter of Armenia in the conflict, while Turkey supports Azerbaijan. Georgia’s opposition United National Movement leader, Salome Samadashvili, has accused Russia of supplying arms to both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Clashes began again on July 12, with both sides accusing each other of initiating the conflict.

“Turkey was the only country in the region to try to bring even greater instability to the region, instead of trying to reduce tensions,” said Mnatsakanyan in his interview with Interfax. In a telephone call on Aug. 26, Mnatsakanyan spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The same day, Lavrov met with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov in Moscow

The Public Radio of Armenia reported that Mnatsakanyan went on to say that “the policy of destabilization and aggression on the part of Turkey is a threat to all neighboring regions, including the eastern Mediterranean, northern Africa and the Middle East.” 

“Today Turkey is trying to export this policy of destabilization to the South Caucasus region. This is a serious concern. Turkey is pursuing an unconstructive and dangerous policy. And Turkey’s actions continue to pose a threat to the security of Armenia”, Mnatsakanyan said.

Azerbaijan’s increased wealth from gas exports has allowed it in recent years to build up a stronger military force. According to OpenDemocracy, Azerbaijan spent $3 billion on its military in 2015, which was more than Armenia’s entire national budget. Armenia has said that it retains the ability to prevent military gains by Azerbaijan, with Mnatsakanyan telling Interfax that “this conflict has no military solution”.

Considering that Russia and Turkey both support opposing factions in ongoing conflicts in Syria and Libya, it also seems unlikely that either power wants to risk further conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.