France: Turkey Sending Fighters to Azerbaijan
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday about the latest fighting in a disputed enclave in Azerbaijan. According to a statement issued by Élysée Palace, the two “shared their concern regarding the sending of Syrian mercenaries by Turkey to Nagorno-Karabakh.” The enclave is governed by its ethnic-Armenian majority and has been a flashpoint over the years between Azerbaijan and its neighbor Armenia, both of which were republics in the Soviet Union, during which time Nagorno-Karabakh was viewed as being semi-autonomous. Ankara has indeed lined up behind Baku with regard to the renewed fighting but denies it has sent fighters. Russia has a defense pact with Armenia. Élysée Palace also says that Macron and Putin “agreed on the need for a joint effort to reach a ceasefire in the framework of Minsk.” It was referring to the so-called Minsk Group established in 1992 by France, Russia and the United States to mediate previous flare-ups in Nagorno-Karabakh. Both Baku and Yerevan are accusing the other of shooting first in fighting that erupted on Sunday, with hundreds of casualties, including several dozen deaths, already reported.