Turkey, Russia discuss involving other countries in Nagorno-Karabakh cease-fire efforts

The Kalbajar district bordering Armenia, which houses one of the two roads linking Nagorno-Karabakh and the neighboring country and has strategic significance for Armenians and Azeris, is due to be handed over to Azerbaijan according to a Russia-brokered cease-fire agreement between two countries in the long-running conflict over the separatist territory. (AP)
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Updated 25 November 2020

Turkey, Russia discuss involving other countries in Nagorno-Karabakh cease-fire efforts

  • Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a Russia-brokered cease-fire on Nov. 10 that halted six weeks of clashes in the mountain enclave
  • Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in the enclave under the cease-fire deal, which locked in Azeri advances

ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed the possibility of involving other countries in efforts to maintain a cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a Russia-brokered cease-fire on Nov. 10 that halted six weeks of clashes in the mountain enclave, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is mainly populated by ethnic Armenians.
Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in the enclave under the cease-fire deal, which locked in Azeri advances. Turkey has no peacekeepers there but has signed an agreement with Russia to set up a joint center to monitor the cease-fire.
“We have the opportunity to develop and expand this more. We discussed these development and expansion efforts with Mr.Putin too,” Erdogan said.
He said the process of maintaining the cease-fire could be taken “to a different level” if other countries in the region were involved but did not name any in his public comments.
Turkey and Russia have been holding talks on the parameters of the monitoring center, but a Turkish source told Reuters the two were at odds over Ankara’s wish to set up an independent military observation post on Azeri territory.
Turkey has long backed its ethnic Turkic kin in Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, and criticized the co-chairs of the so-called Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Co-operation security and rights watchdog for not resolving the conflict in decades of mediation. The Minsk Group includes France, Russia and the United States.
France, whose population includes between 400,000 to 600,000 people of Armenian origin, wants international supervision of the cease-fire because of concerns that Russia and Turkey may cut Western powers out of future peace talks.
Erdogan said “discomfort” voiced over the agreement by some co-chairs of the Minsk Group “has no worth whatsoever.”


Syrian Air makes first Aleppo to Beirut flight since 2011

Updated 25 min 45 sec ago

Syrian Air makes first Aleppo to Beirut flight since 2011

  • Syrian Air said a weekly flight between Aleppo and Beirut will continue
  • Syria’s conflict began in March 2011 and has killed nearly half a million people

BEIRUT: Syrian Air conducted its first flight in a decade between the northern city of Aleppo and Lebanon’s capital Beirut early Friday, resuming a round-trip route that’s been halted since Syria’s conflict began in 2011.
Precautionary measures against the coronavirus were in place, with passengers required to show PCR tests taken less than three days before the flight, according to Syria’s state news agency SANA.
The head of Syrian Air in Lebanon, Rashed Attar, said the flight arrived in Beirut carrying 36 passengers and returned to Aleppo with 44 passengers. Attar said a weekly flight between Aleppo and Beirut will continue.
Syrian Air currently conducts three flights a week between the Syrian capital of Damascus and Beirut.
Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and its former commercial center, had its airport closed for years because of the conflict. The city was divided until late 2016, when government forces captured rebel-held eastern parts of Aleppo.
Syria’s conflict began in March 2011 and has killed nearly half a million people. The fighting has displaced half the country’s population, including more than five million who are refugees outside the country.