President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev made important statements to CNN regarding the allegations of Turkish F-16s, France and Pashinyan.
-Sir, I spoke with the President of Armenia and he told me that this conflict is very different from previous conflicts because of the open support Turkey provides to Azerbaijan. Are there currently Turkish forces or Turkish equipment in Azerbaijan, sir?
-Turkish equipment yes, Turkish forces no. And frankly, I regret that the president of Armenia took this opportunity to speak to the world via CNN and spread the rumors. I can’t call it any other way because I didn’t see what you said as you presented it to me but what I heard from you is absolutely wrong. It is wrong information. Turkey supports us, but this is political support. This is diplomatic support, and if it were not for the very clear position of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Azerbaijan is not alone, but that Turkey is with Azerbaijan, probably today Armenia would have achieved its goal.
-You said that there is Turkish equipment in Azerbaijan. Which Turkish equipment, sir?
-Weapons, Turkish guns, not just Turkish guns, Russian guns, Israeli guns, Belarusian guns, Ukrainian guns, you name it. Because today, the geography of our military equipment purchases is expanding and we are paying the price for it. If you look at how and where Armenia obtains its weapons, you will see that they cannot pay for these weapons, because it is billions of dollars. This is impossible for a poor country. They get free weapons from their allies, and we pay them to buy weapons.
-Are there any Turkish F-16s in the field that will provide serious support to Azerbaijan?
-F-16s came to Azerbaijan for military exercises. Last year, Azerbaijan and Turkey held ten joint military exercises. Turkey is our ally and it is common to conduct military exercises here, including with the air force. By the way, we only held two military exercises this year due to the pandemic. One of them was just before the Armenian attack on Azerbaijan. So F-16s are on the ground, they don’t fly. They do not participate in any war in any way.
-F-16s are not in use, right?
-I would like to tell you about an Armenian fraud in which they say that Turkish F-16s shot down Armenian SU-25 in the first days of the conflict. This is fake and those who accuse us of it should apologize now. Because everybody knows it’s fake. The F-16s are here but on the ground as you correctly stated.
– France, the USA and Russia co-chair the OSCE Minsk Group, which has been seeking a solution to this long-standing conflict since the 1990s. The French foreign minister specifically warned that Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan risks fueling the conflict. You say you are supported by Turkey. But what do you say to the French when they say that this support risks exacerbating this conflict?
-I do not agree. As I said, Turkey plays a stabilizing role in the region and especially in the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Every country can have a partner and an ally. Azerbaijan and the people of Azerbaijan are happy to have such a partner, such an ally and such a brother like Turkey. We do not object that Armenia sees France as an ally and that France is currently a country that supports most of Armenia. At the same time, we see that it is up to the countries to choose allies. For example, the French foreign minister is not concerned about Russia’s support of Armenia with free weapons and does not think that this is the internationalization of the conflict. But it becomes a concern when Turkey expresses its legitimate, political support, and I frankly don’t understand how a NATO country can act this way towards another NATO country? NATO members were supposed to be allies. But we don’t see it.