Caucasus Reality 12 june — 15:04

Turkish troops in Nakhchivan caused panic in Armenia (Our details)

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BY ZAUR RASULZADEH

In Nakhchivan, the last stage of the joint Azerbaijani-Turkish tactical combat exercises 'Indestructible Brotherhood 2019' has been completed. According to the press-service of the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry, the exercises involved up to 5,000 soldiers of both countries, more than 200 units of tanks and other armoured vehicles, up to 180 rocket and artillery systems of different calibre, multiple launch rocket systems and mortars, 21 aircraft and helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and various types of modern weapons and military equipment.

The purpose of the manoeuvres was to develop joint plans for the combat operations of the headquarters, to increase the level of professionalism of the personnel and to achieve coordination between the military units of Azerbaijan and Turkey by developing their skills in performing joint tasks. At the same time, it is emphasised that joint tactical exercises are aimed at developing combat shooting.

The exercises in Nakhchivan caused great concern in Armenia, which resulted in angry statements by Armenian leaders of various calibres and even appeals to 'the world community' calling 'to stop and supress Azerbaijan's permanent buildup of military power.'

Thus, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Armenia, Aram Sargsyan, said that the international community does not pay enough attention to Nakhchivan, which could have global consequences. 'The presence of Turkey in Nakhchivan continues to strengthen the Azerbaijani-Turkish tandem, posing a threat not only to the security of Armenia along the perimeter of the border, which has seen an increase in tension in recent months, but also to the region as a whole,' said the Armenian politician.

Another Armenian activist, Sergei Shakaryants, at a press-conference in Yerevan, in response to the Turkish-Azerbaijani military exercises, offered to urgently conduct joint exercises of Armenia and Iran on the border with Nakhchivan. To which Iran did not consider it necessary to express at least some reaction. However, Tehran now clearly has no time for exercises, and indeed could not care less about Armenia: it has deal with its own problems.

At the same time, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, who was present at the manoeuvres in Nakhchivan, clearly outlined their tasks and format: 'Turkey and Azerbaijan are fraternal countries, collectively opposing threats. In today's world, threats are growing not only at the regional, but also at the global level. The security of our countries and peoples can be ensured only by strengthening military might. A strong army is a deterrent to the enemy.'

Nakhchivan today is the same front-line region as the areas on the approaches to the Nagorno-Karabakh occupied by Armenians. Therefore, it is precisely here that projects are being implemented aimed at further building up military power and strengthening the country's military potential. The creation in the autonomous republic of a separate army, equipping it with the most modern weapons and ammunition, modern equipment, the creation of new and modernisation of existing military units was undertaken so that, if necessary, Nakhchivan could give a worthy response to any potential aggression and threat.

At the same time, as Turkish political analyst Ugur Unver reminds, according to the Treaty of Kars, the Republic of Turkey is the guarantor of the security of Nakhchivan. 'In this aspect, Turkey is responsible for the security of Nakhchivan. In case of any threat to this region of Azerbaijan, in accordance with the Treaty of Kars, Turkey should take immediate steps to overcome this threat. That is, the current and joint Turkish-Azerbaijani exercises are not directed against anyone, simply, according to its obligations, Turkey has the right to hold events to protect Nakhchivan,' Unver explains.

The signing ceremony of the Moscow Treaty between Turkey and Russia, 1921

As is known, the fifth article of the Treaty of Kars, concluded in 1921 between Turkey and the Soviet republics of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, defined the special status of Nakhchivan (formerly Nakhichevan) within Azerbaijan. 'The Government of Turkey and the governments of the Soviet Republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan agree that the Nakhichevan Region, within the boundaries specified in Annex III of this Treaty, forms an autonomous territory under the auspices of Azerbaijan.' It would seem that a precise and extremely clear legal framework of this international document dots all i's and crosses all t's in a dispute over the ownership of this region. The Kars Treaty has become a reliable international legal guarantor in the fate of Nakhchivan. And although to this day there has been no talk of denouncing this agreement, Armenia from time to time tries to declare its rights to Nakhchivan, although it itself has been recognising the protectorate of Azerbaijan over this territory for a century.

Even now, despite the legality of holding such military exercises in Nakhchivan, Armenia is trying to draw the attention of Russia (another guarantor of the autonomy's security) pointing out that 'the command of the 102nd Russian military base is closely following the joint military exercises of Turkey and Azerbaijan in Nakhchivan.'

According to the Armenian media, this was stated by the military attache of the Russian embassy in Armenia, Andrei Grischuk. However, the Russian military diplomat, despite the aspirations of the Armenians, notes that military exercises in Nakhchivan 'currently pose no threat.' 'These exercises are interesting from the point of view of statistics, maintaining stability in the region. They do not pose any threat at the moment. These are basic exercises and are carried out in accordance with the stated goals, therefore we observe these exercises,' said Grischuk.

Earlier, political analyst Sergei Markov, the general director of the Institute of Political Studies, gave the same assessment of the Nakhchivan autonomy and everything that is happening there. First of all, he stated that Russia adheres to the principles of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, including Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhchivan, and also as co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group in every way promotes peaceful dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia, believing that the conflict should be resolved in the framework of the peace process.

'Nakhchivan is an integral part of Azerbaijan. Recently, I know, in the Azerbaijani press there was concern about the possible raising of a problem with Nakhchivan. I want to assure that the position of the Russian state is very precise and clear: Nakhchivan is an integral part of Azerbaijan, and any conversations that call it into question violate the law and undermine stability in this region,' said Markov.

That is, despite the fact that both guarantors of Nakhchivan's security - Turkey and Russia - do not show any concern about military exercises in the region, the Armenian side, as usual, is trying in every way to aggravate the situation on the eve of the alleged talks between the leaderships of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

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