Turkey’s parliament has approved a motion that allows Turkish troops to be deployed in Azerbaijan for the next 12 months.
The troops will join Russian forces as observers in Nagorno-Karabakh, helping to uphold the peace deal brokered by Russia and signed by Armenia and Azerbaijan on 10 November.
The motion [‘tezkere’], submitted to Parliament on Tuesday by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said the deployment was necessary “for the benefit of the peace and prosperity of the regional people and necessary for our national interests.”
It was approved with a huge majority after four of the five parties in parliament gave their consent: the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party), CHP (Republican Turkish Party), MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) and İYİ (Good Party). Only the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) voted against the motion.
The deployment reflects a Turkish-Azerbaijan strategic pact signed in 2010, while also building on the co-operation between Ankara and Moscow in other regional conflicts, including Libya and Syria.
The mandate means Turkish troops will operate alongside some 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops at an observation post in Azerbaijan to monitor the implementation of the peace deal.
The presence of combined Russian-Turkish peacekeeping force forms part of an accord that helped bring an end to the recent conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, which broke out on 27 September.
The six-week conflict claimed the lives of an estimated 4,000 people on both sides, with Azerbaijan emerging victorious.
The Turkic state reclaimed control of five cities, four towns, 240 villages, and the entire Azerbaijan–Iran border that it had previously lost to Armenian separatists during a bitter five-year war that ended with the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis in 1994.
The 10 November peace deal signed by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan not only ended the hostilities, but also confirmed the territorial recoveries made by Azerbaijan.
Main image, top, of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM), 2013. Photo © Voice of America . public domain via Wikimedia