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Turkish President Visits Azerbaijani-Controlled City In Nagorno-Karabakh


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attend a signing ceremony in Susa/Shushi in Nagorno-Karabakh on June 15.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has visited a part of Nagorno-Karabakh that is under Azerbaijan's control along with one of the seven districts adjacent to the breakaway region that Baku regained control over last autumn as a result of a six-week war against Armenian forces.

Erdogan's June 15 visit, which was condemned by the Armenian Foreign Ministry as an "an outright provocation against regional peace and security," came a day after he met with U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels.

Upon his arrival in Baku, Erdogan traveled to the decimated town of Fuzuli to the southeast of Nagorno-Karabakh -- the first town that Azerbaijani forces recaptured last autumn from ethnic Armenian forces who'd controlled it since the early 1990s.

Erdogan was met in Fuzuli by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his wife. They then traveled into Azerbaijani-controlled territory within Nagorno-Karabakh to visit the strategic city of Susa, which is known in Armenian as Shushi.

Azerbaijan's seizure of the mountain fortress city in early November was a key moment in the war. It gave Baku a tactical advantage over the Armenian forces and led to a Russian-brokered cease-fire that brought an end to the fighting.

Erdogan was honored there on June 15 with an official greeting ceremony. Afterward, he and Aliyev signed a document called the Susa Declaration on Allied Relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Turkey provided Azerbaijan with both diplomatic and military support during the recent conflict.

Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. But ethnic Armenians who make up most of the region's population and still control part of the territory there reject Baku's rule.

During the early 1990s, ethnic Armenian fighters forced out some 750,000 Azerbaijanis from Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts of Azerbaijan in a war that claimed the lives of some 30,000 people.