The construction of the Turkish-Russian joint monitoring center will be completed in two weeks, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Dec. 31.
“The sooner the Monitoring Center starts operating, the better, because even though about two months have passed since the war ended, there are still threats and dangers,” Aliyev said during a meeting with Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and commanders of Turkish Armed Forces.
“The Azerbaijani side is currently constructing a building for this Monitoring Center in Aghdam district. This Monitoring Center will be ready in the next 10 days – a maximum of two weeks,” a statement by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry quoted him as saying.
“As far as I know, the Turkish side is ready to start operating. You are probably also in contact with the Russian side,” he added.
Aliyev noted the armed forces of Armenia violated the cease-fire and that the Azerbaijani army had martyrs even after the war.
“I can say that according to the information we have, the Armenian armed units that still remain in some of the liberated lands are not subordinated to the Armenian political leadership,” the Azerbaijani president said, adding many of them have been neutralized and many others arrested.
“They cannot be considered prisoners of war – they are terrorists. They were given a chance. In particular, Russian peacekeepers joined the operation and they were allowed the opportunity to leave the area,” Aliyev said.
Highlighting the importance of the formation of the Azerbaijan-Armenia-Turkey transport corridor, Aliyev said that the construction of a railway line that extends to the border with Armenia would take around two years to complete, but without waiting that much transportation can begin via trucks.
For his part, Akar said Turkey and Azerbaijan are working together to help ensure peace in the newly liberated Upper Karabakh region.
“The unity, equality and joint efforts of Azerbaijan and Turkey in ensuring peace and stability here with Azerbaijan’s determination will usher great prospects not only for today but also for the future,” the Turkish defense minister said.
Following the Nov. 10 truce, Turkey and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a joint center to monitor the peace deal on Azerbaijani territories liberated from Armenia’s occupation.
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, and seven adjacent regions.
When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
During the 44-day conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages from the nearly three-decade-long occupation.
Despite the Nov. 10 deal ending the conflict, the Armenian army several times violated the agreement and martyred several Azerbaijani soldiers and a civilian, according to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry.
The truce is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces have been withdrawing in line with the agreement.