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AFP
December 11, 2020

Erdogan hails Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia

World

AFP
December 11, 2020

Baku: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on a visit to Azerbaijan Thursday that Baku’s struggle with Armenia was not over as he hailed his close ally’s "glorious victory" in a bloody conflict with Yerevan.

Erdogan arrived in Baku to attend nationwide celebrations marking Azerbaijan’s military triumph over Armenia in six weeks of fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Turkey backed Azerbaijan during a conflict that erupted in late September and left more than 5,000 people dead.

Azerbaijan’s win against Armenian separatists in Karabakh last month was an important geopolitical coup for Erdogan who has cemented Turkey’s leading role as a powerbroker in the ex-Soviet Caucasus region the Kremlin considers its sphere of influence.

In Baku, Azerbaijan’s army paraded military hardware and weapons seized from Armenia, and Turkish drones were also on full display. Hailing the parade, Turkish television announced that Turkish drones "turned the tide" of the Karabakh war.

"We are here today to... celebrate this glorious victory," Erdogan said during the parade, the culmination of festivities marking Azerbaijan’s victory. "Azerbaijan’s saving its lands from occupation does not mean that the struggle is over," he added.

"The struggle carried out in the political and military areas will continue from now on many other fronts." National anthems of Azerbaijan and Turkey were performed ahead of the military display that was reviewed by Erdogan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev.

Erdogan’s attendance "shows to the whole world the unbreakable friendship of Azerbaijani and Turkish peoples," Aliyev said, adding that Erdogan’s support "from the first days of armed actions emboldened the Azerbaijani people."

"Armenia was brought to its knees and capitulated," he said. "Our iron fist is both our unity and our strength. And this iron fist broke the enemy’s backbone, crushed the enemy’s head." More than 3,000 troops took part in the parade which has also been attended by 2,783 Turkish military -- a symbolic equivalent of the number of Azerbaijani servicemen killed in clashes. A Turkish commando unit was also in attendance.

None wore masks against the coronavirus despite Azerbaijan facing a dramatic spike in new daily cases that followed the breakout of hostilities. Ankara was widely accused of dispatching mercenaries from Syria to bolster Baku’s army, but denied the charge.