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EU’s Borrell regrets Turkey and Azerbaijan skipped summit

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EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell expressed great regret on Thursday that Azerbaijan and Turkey had decided not to attend a summit of European leaders, amid tension over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Agence France-Presse reported.

“It’s a shame that Azerbaijan isn’t here and it’s a shame that Turkey, which is the main country supporting Azerbaijan, is not here either,” Borrell said, arriving at the European Political Community meeting in Granada.

“Therefore, we are not going to be able to talk here about something as serious as the fact that more than 100,000 people have had to leave their homes in a hurry and running away from an act of military force.”

Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev decided not to participate in the meeting in Granada, stating as the reason that the precondition that Turkey also be included in the talks was not accepted, among other reasons, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday, citing diplomatic sources in Baku.

Azerbaijan launched a lightning offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh on Sept. 19, sending tanks and troops into the region under the cover of heavy artillery bombardment. Karabakh Armenian leaders were forced to surrender following 24 hours of fierce fighting that killed hundreds on both sides. Since then, the Armenian government says more than 100,000 people have fled their homes and crossed the border, fearing for their lives.

Turkey was a key backer of Azerbaijan during the conflict. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last week met with Aliyev, in the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan in a show of support.

The Granada talks were to take place on the sidelines of the European summit, under the mediation of France, Germany and the European Council.

According to Anadolu, Azerbaijani officials emphasized that an anti-Azerbaijani atmosphere had been created by the parties involved before the meeting, which was supposed to focus on peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

They cited pro-Armenian statements by French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu and French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna’s visit to Armenia and her announcements regarding military cooperation as well as accusations made by EU Council President Charles Michel against Azerbaijan.

Officials stated, “For these reasons, Azerbaijan rejected the quintet meeting, and President Ilham Aliyev decided not to go to Granada.”

Baku believes that issues with Armenia can be discussed and resolved within a regional framework rather than involving countries far removed from the region. Officials also indicated that Azerbaijan could participate in the meeting if the previous EU-Azerbaijan-Armenia tripartite format were revived.

Azerbaijani authorities underlined that they will not participate in any format that includes France.

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