Turkey backs Azerbaijan, says Armenia 'should cease provocations'

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar speaks during a news conference at a coordination center overseeing the Ukrainian grain exports, in Istanbul, Turkey August 20, 2022. REUTERS/Dilara Senkaya

ANKARA, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Turkey said on Tuesday it continued to back Azerbaijan and called on Armenia to "cease its provocations" after clashes erupted between the two South Caucasus countries that resumed decades-old hostilities.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar held talks with Azeri counterpart Zakir Hasanov, the ministry said. "He emphasised that Turkey has always stood by brotherly Azerbaijan and will continue to stand by it in its just causes," it said.

Early on Tuesday, Russian news agencies reported the clashes were linked to the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, over which Azerbaijan re-established full control in a six-week conflict in 2020. read more

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Baku and Yerevan have blamed each other for the flare-up. read more

Turkey neighbours both countries but is a close ally of Azerbaijan and backed its effort to drive ethnic Armenian forces from Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, including providing armed drones.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara's relations with Armenia were not independent of Yerevan-Baku ties. He also discussed the situation with Azerbaijan Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov.

"Armenia should cease its provocations and focus on peace negotiations and cooperation with Azerbaijan," he said on Twitter after the talks. read more

Turkish and Azeri forces have held joint military drills since the 2020 conflict to improve their combat interoperability.

In the defence ministry statement, Akar referred to Armenia's "aggressive attitude and provocative actions".

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Daren Butler and Ece Toksabay; Editing by Jonathan Spicer, Alexandra Hudson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.