Armenian President Armen Sarkissian said that Turkey was “creating another Syria in the Caucasus” in a conflict for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Sarkissian called on Russia, the United States and NATO, of which Turkey is a member, to restrain Ankara, describing it as “the bully of the region”.
“We need more pressure from Russia. I hope there will be more pressure from Russia and from the United States,” Sarkissian told the Financial Times in an interview published on Friday. “Being a member of NATO … means you have to restrain yourself. You don’t get a green card to go interfere in third-party conflicts.”
The fighting between Armenian and Azeri forces is the latest flare-up centred around the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The clashes have threatened to widen beyond the breakaway state, which is located within Azerbaijan’s borders but controlled by ethnic Armenians.
Turkey has thrown its full support behind Azerbaijan, saying it is ready to do whatever is necessary to eject Armenian forces from the region.
Sarkissian said Turkey’s military and diplomatic support for Azerbaijan had displaced Russia from its traditional balancing role between Yerevan and Baku, according the Financial Times.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has publicly dismissed repeated international calls for an immediate ceasefire as “superficial” and “not useful”. Ankara has also been accused by various countries, including Russia and France, of arming and providing additional manpower to Azeri forces in the form of Syrian mercenaries.
“We need more effort to stop this,” Sarkissian said. “And the focus of the efforts should be Turkey. The moment Turkey is taken out of the equation, we will be closer to a ceasefire and returning to the negotiation table.”
Azerbaijan and Turkey’s approach “means ethnic cleansing”, Sarkissian said. “Cleaning it up … they want that piece of land.”
The Armenian president accused Turkey of “destroying the balance” set by a decades-long ceasefire. “When there was no Turkey, the mechanism worked,” he said.
“If we don’t act now internationally, stopping Turkey … with the perspective of making this region a new Syria … then everyone will be hit.”