The normalization of relations with neighboring Armenia is based on reaching a solution to the upper Karabakh issue, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday.
Speaking at an event to mark the 100th anniversary of the liberation of Baku by the Caucasian Islamic Army, Erdoğan recalled the 1992 Khojaly massacre that killed hundreds of Azerbaijani citizens.
"Those who cannot explain what happened in Khojaly 26 years ago, the massacre in upper Karabakh, and declare the killers heroes, should not give Turkey any kind of history lesson," Erdoğan said, referring to Armenia. "Those who occupy 20 percent of Azerbaijani lands and prevent over 1 million Azerbaijanis to return to their land should not expect Turkey to open its borders."
Yesterday, Erdoğan also criticized the trilateral entity of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group established in 1992, consisting of the U.S., Russia and France, for putting the peace process on idle.
"They don't act with sensitivity to the issue," Erdoğan told journalists accompanying him on his way back from Azerbaijan.
He added that the main purpose of the Minks Group was to give the occupied territories back to its real owners, referring to Azerbaijan.
The Khojaly Massacre is regarded as one of the bloodiest and most controversial incidents of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan for control of the now-occupied upper Karabakh region.
On the heels of the Soviet Union's dissolution, Armenian forces took over the town of Khojaly in Karabakh on Feb. 26, 1992, after battering it with heavy artillery and tanks, assisted by an infantry regiment. The two-hour offensive killed 613 Azerbaijani citizens, including 116 women and 63 children, and critically injured 487 others, according to Azerbaijani figures.
Also, 150 of the 1,275 Azerbaijanis that the Armenians captured during the massacre remain missing. Erdoğan said Caucasian Islamic Army protected the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in 1918 and laid the foundation to Azerbaijan's independence in 1991.
"Since the early periods of Azerbaijan's independence, Turkey supported the brother country in every way and we will continue to do so," he also said during his address on Saturday.
During his one-day visit to the country, Erdoğan also had a one-on-one meeting with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev.
On Sept. 15, 1918, Baku was liberated by the Caucasian Islamic Army, comprised of Azerbaijani and Turkish soldiers.
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