Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday said Turkey must stay out of the Karabakh conflict and challenged President Trump to hold Ankara accountable to the same.
“With casualties rapidly mounting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, the Trump Administration needs to call the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan immediately to de-escalate the situation. It must also demand others — like Turkey — stay out of this conflict,” said in a Twitter post on Tuesday.
With Azerbaijan’s attacks on the entire border of Artsakh going into a third day, Armenia reported that one of its fighter jets was downed by a Turkish F-16 plane that flew out of an airbase in Gyanja, Azerbaijan, killing the pilot.
Since Azerbaijan began its massive attack against Artsakh Sunday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately voiced his unequivocal support to Azerbaijan and urged the people of Armenian to topple the government of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Erdogan also attacked the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairing countries—the United States, Russia and France—saying that in 30 years they had not be able to reach a settlement, calling for end to the conflict, in favor of Azerbaijan, “once and for all.”
President Trump has not made a statement on the escalating military situation since Sunday when in response to a reporter’s question he said at a White House press briefing: “We are looking at it very strongly. We have a lot of good relationships in that area, we will see if we can stop it.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to “cease hostilities.”
Pompeo said during a visit to Crete on Tuesday that he had discussed the clashes in talks earlier with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.
“The foreign minister and I addressed the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh where both sides need to stop the violence and work with the Minsk Group co-chairs and return to substantive negotiations as quickly as possible,” said Pompeo.
Soon after Azerbaijan began its attack on Artsakh, the State Department issued a statement, saying the U.S. is “alarmed.”
“The United States is alarmed by reports of large scale military action along the Line of Contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone that has resulted in significant casualties, including civilians. We extend our condolences to the families of those killed and injured,” said the State Department on Sunday.
“The United States condemns in the strongest terms this escalation of violence. Deputy Secretary Biegun called the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Jeyhun Bayramov, and the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, to urge both sides to cease hostilities immediately, to use the existing direct communication links between them to avoid further escalation, and to avoid unhelpful rhetoric and actions that further raise tensions on the ground,” added the State Department.
“The United States believes participation in the escalating violence by external parties would be deeply unhelpful and only exacerbate regional tensions. We urge the sides to work with the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to return to substantive negotiations as soon as possible. As a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the United States remains committed to helping the sides achieve a peaceful and sustainable settlement to the conflict,” the State Department urged.
For his part, Biden issued a statement Sunday, calling for the observance of the ceasefire and urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to return to the negotiating table.
“I am deeply concerned by the outbreak of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh and call for urgent de-escalation, restoring the ceasefire, and a resumption of negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Biden said.
“The United States should be pushing for more observers along the ceasefire line and calling for Russia to stop cynically providing arms to both sides, while reviewing our own security assistance programs to ensure no military capabilities are being repurposed for offensive means,” he added.
He called on the Trump administration to step up its diplomatic efforts, together with fellow OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs France and Russia, to seek a peaceful resolution and to support confidence-building measures.
“The eruption of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh runs the risk of escalating into a larger regional conflict, which is why third parties in the region must stay out of this conflict and the Minsk Group mediators must immediately seek de-escalation and a return to negotiations,” added Biden.