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Turkish professionals urge int’l community to protect Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh

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A group of professionals from Turkey, including academics, journalists and writers, have called on the international community to take an active role in making the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh permanent in an effort to protect Armenians in the region from possible genocide, local media reported on Friday.

Azerbaijan launched a military operation in its ethnically Armenian breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh earlier this week, nearly three years after fighting a brief but brutal war with Armenia over the mountainous region.

The two neighbors, Azerbaijan and Armenia, have gone to war twice over Nagorno-Karabakh, first in the early 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union and again in 2020.

Turkey was a key backer of Azerbaijan during the 2020 conflict, providing it with drones produced by the Baykar company — co-run by a son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The clashes in 2020 ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire after six weeks of fighting and some 6,000 deaths.

According to Turkish media reports, 123 professionals on Friday issued a joint statement in which they called on all states and various international organizations, especially the United Nations, to take action and prevent a possible human tragedy in Nagorno-Karabakh instead of remaining observers to Azerbaijan’s military operation.

“For months, the United Nations, European Union institutions, institutions of the Council of Europe, and some individual countries have been calling on Azerbaijan to lift the blockade on the 120,000 people in Karabakh. Today, similar calls for restraint and a ceasefire are being made. Expecting Baku, which ignored these calls before, to change its mind today is absurd,” the group said.

They added that Azerbaijan’s goal is to completely take control of Nagorno-Karabakh and to expel the Armenian population from the lands they have lived in for centuries, and if they resist, to bring an end to their existence since the ongoing ceasefire negotiations do not seem to allow for a different status or cultural presence.

They urged the international community to take action to prevent a potential genocide, emphasizing the need for making the ceasefire in the region permanent and immediate humanitarian aid and airlift operations to evacuate civilians stranded in the region to safe places.

Among the signatories are historian and journalist Ayşe Hür; academic Baskın Oran; academic Cengiz Aktar; Emre Uslu, an analyst and academic in the United States; journalist Yasemin Çongar; and Eren Keskin, a prominent Kurdish lawyer and human rights activist.

Erdoğan on Thursday expressed “wholehearted support” for Azerbaijan in a call with counterpart Ilham Aliyev following Baku’s military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Turkey has historically been an ally of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan and views mostly Christian Armenia as one of its main regional rivals.

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