Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed developments in relation to the joint Russian-Turkish peacekeeping centre in the conflict-ridden Nagorno-Karabakh region during his meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Sochi.
“The centre was created as a result of an agreement reached between the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” the Russian Foreign Ministry cited Lavrov as saying during a press conference following the meeting of the Russia-Turkey Joint Strategic Planning Group in Sochi on Tuesday.
Lavrov further emphasised that progress in relation to the development of the monitoring centre is currently underway, reports Xinhua news agency.
According to TASS, the Turkish side acknowledged that a ceasefire regime has been established in the region, and expressed hope that the joint monitoring centre in Aghdam, a district handed over to the Azerbaijani military on November 20 as a condition of the truce, will be fully set up in the very near future.
Both sides agreed that the tense situation in Nagorno-Karabakh should not be used to deploy foreign mercenaries to the conflict, the Ministry said.
“Relations between the Russian Federation and Turkey have intrinsic value and are self-sufficient. They do not depend on someone’s aggressive, unfriendly actions and do not depend on anyone’s whims,” Lavrov noted while discussing bilateral ties.
“Our relations acquired strategic importance long before the West began to threaten and impose its illegitimate unilateral sanctions,” he added.
In a related development also on Tuesday, Turkey sent soldiers to Azerbaijan to join Russian forces at an observation post in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Our staff went to Azerbaijan, and are ready there. One general and 35 of our officers will take office immediately after the construction of the joint centre is completed and becomes operational,” Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Tuesday.
In November, the Turkish Parliament approved a motion for the deployment of its troops at the joint centre for a year as part of an accord between Ankara and Moscow to monitor the implementation of the fourth ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The three other ceasefires — two brokered by Russia (October 10, 17) and one by the US (October 26) — collapsed after Armenia and Azerbaijan traded accusations and attacks.
A new round of armed conflict broke out on September 27 along the contact line of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but mostly governed by the Republic of Artsakh, a de facto independent state with an Armenian ethnic majority.
Armenia and Azerbaijan went to war over the region in 1988-94, eventually declaring a ceasefire.
However, a settlement was never reached.