Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Azerbaijan does not oppose Turkey's dialogue efforts with Armenia and that the country actually supports it.
"Azerbaijan is not disturbed about normalization efforts between Turkey and Armenia. On the contrary, they support it and Ankara conducts normalization efforts in coordination with Baku," Çavuşoğlu told a live broadcast on TRT Haber Thursday.
The foreign minister continued by saying that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has realized that isolation and occupation have not benefited the country. He also noted that he told his American counterpart Anthony Blinken that the United States should support dialogue efforts, as the Armenian diaspora abroad puts pressure on Armenia to avoid normalization.
"Both Armenia and Azerbaijan want comprehensive peace," he said.
Despite being neighboring countries, Turkey and Armenia have seen many difficulties in their diplomatic relations since Yerevan’s declaration of independence in 1991.
The two countries have long been divided by a range of issues – from Armenia’s refusal to recognize their shared border to its occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and the 1915 events between the Ottoman Empire and Armenians.
The bilateral relations, however, have gained a new dimension toward normalization recently, with Turkish and Armenian special envoys scheduled to meet in Moscow on Jan. 14 to lead dialogue between Ankara and Yerevan.
Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Armenia’s independence on Sept. 21, 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
It sent humanitarian aid to Armenia, which was struggling with serious economic problems after declaring its independence, and helped Yerevan integrate with regional organizations, the international community and Western institutions.
Turkey also invited Armenia to the Black Sea Economic Cooperation as a founding member.
However, the bilateral relations deteriorated after Armenia’s occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory.
Turkey ended direct trade with Armenia in 1993 and the border between the two countries was closed.
Following the war over Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkish-Armenian relations have entered a new phase, with Erdoğan saying Turkey is ready for dialogue with Armenia.
Addressing Azerbaijan’s Parliament on Jan. 16, 2021, Erdoğan said peace and stability in the Caucasus will benefit the entire world, not just countries of the region.
Meanwhile, the foreign minister also criticized France for openly embracing Islamophobia and the silence of other Western countries regarding the issue.
"Islamophobia has become state policy in France," Çavuşoğlu said, as he also criticized the European Commission for remaining silent.
Muslims living in France have recently expressed concern about the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in upcoming elections.
In November, France also blocked a campaign launched by the Council of Europe against anti-Muslim hate speech, promoting diversity among women and their freedom to wear the Muslim headscarf.
Anti-Muslim hatred has significantly risen in Europe in recent years. Far-right extremism and xenophobia have fueled Islamophobia in Western countries, where terrorist attacks by Daesh and al-Qaida, as well as a migrant crisis, are used as excuses to legitimize those views. France, home to the largest Muslim minority in Europe, estimated at 5 million or more out of a population of 67 million, took the helm of Islamophobic efforts to silence members of the minority group. Critics denounced Macron for trying to galvanize far-right citizens to vote for him in the 2022 April presidential elections.
Macron's anti-Muslim rhetoric sparked a wave of anti-Muslim feelings among far-right groups. The number of Islamophobic incidents in France rose sharply last year. According to the National Observatory of Islamophobia, there were 235 attacks on Muslims in France in 2020, up from 154 the previous year, a 53% jump. Most of the attacks took place in the Ile-de-France (Greater Paris), Rhones-Alpes and Paca regions of the country. Attacks on mosques jumped 35% in the same year. A global coalition of 25 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) asked the European Commission to investigate France for its state-sponsored support of Islamophobia.
The French bill was criticized worldwide because it targets the Muslim community and imposes restrictions on almost every aspect of their lives. It allows intervening in mosques and the associations responsible for their administration as well as controlling the finances of associations and NGOs belonging to Muslims. It also restricts the education choices of the Muslim community by preventing families from giving children home education. The bill also prohibits patients from choosing doctors based on gender for religious or other reasons and makes "secularism education" compulsory for all public officials.