U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lambasted Turkey’s military support for Azerbaijan in fighting against Armenian separatists in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, saying it was detrimental to resolving the conflict.
“We now have the Turks, who have stepped in and provided resources to Azerbaijan, increasing the risk, increasing the firepower that’s taking place in this historic fight over this place called Nagorno-Karabakh,” Pompeo told U.S. broadcaster WSB Atlanta in an interview, according to an e-mailed transcript sent by the State Department.
Turkey has underscored its firm support for Azerbaijan in clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is located within Azerbaijan’s borders but controlled by ethnic Armenians, which erupted on Sept. 27. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said his country was ready to do whatever was necessary to eject Armenian forces from the region.
Since then, France, Russia, Iran and Armenia have separately accused Turkey of sending battle-hardened Syrian mercenaries who fought in the Syrian and Libyan civil wars to bolster Azeri troops. Armenia has also repeatedly accused Turkey of providing air support and on Thursday said the country was blocking flights carrying humanitarian aid from using Turkish airspace.
“The resolution of that conflict ought to be done through negotiation and peaceful discussions, not through armed conflict, and certainly not with third party countries coming in to lend their firepower to what is already a powder keg of a situation,” Pompeo said.