Turkey criticises ceasefire efforts to end Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

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ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday criticised international efforts to tackle the Azeri-Armenian conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, saying they had achieved nothing in nearly 30 years.

Fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, which belongs to Azerbaijan under international law but is populated and governed by ethnic Armenians, has risen to its worst level since the 1990s.

Turkey has condemned what it calls Armenian occupation of Azeri lands and vowed full solidarity with its ethnic Turkic kin in Azerbaijan. Ankara has repeatedly called on Yerevan to withdraw its troops from Nagorno-Karabakh.

Speaking during a visit to the Azeri capital Baku on Tuesday, Cavusoglu said a ceasefire alone would not be sufficient to end the fighting.

“We look at the calls coming from around the world, and it’s ‘immediate ceasefire’. What then? There was a ceasefire until now, but what happened?” Cavusoglu said in comments broadcast on Turkish television.

“There can be a ceasefire, but what will be the result?” he added. “Can you tell Armenia to immediately withdraw from Azeri lands? Can you come up with a solution for it to withdraw? No, it’s the same calls for 30 years.”

Last week, France - a co-chair of the Minsk group mediating the conflict along with Russia and the United States - proposed a new initiative to restart talks between Baku and Yerevan. But those were hampered when Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said Baku needed guarantees to consider a truce.

Cavusoglu also dismissed the efforts, saying they could not treat Armenia and Azerbaijan as equals, as that would amount to “rewarding the occupier”.

“The whole world now needs to understand this cannot go on like this,” he said.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler and Gareth Jones