UPDATE WITH BAHCELI'S REMARKS ON IDLIB
By Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) – Crimes against humanity including genocide were committed in Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region on Feb. 26, 1992, a senior Turkish politician said Tuesday.
"In the town of Khojaly, international crimes like genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression, and crimes against peace were committed," Devlet Bahceli told his party's parliamentary group.
Those crimes have gone unpunished, he said.
"Khojaly has not been recognized as genocide internationally," said Bahceli, who leads the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
"The Khojaly genocide should be registered in the International Criminal Court, War Crimes Tribunal, Human Rights Court. Whatever is necessary should be done for the criminals."
In the wake of the breakup of the Soviet Union, the 1992 Khojaly Massacre is seen as one of the bloodiest incidents of the battle between Armenia and Azerbaijan for control of the now-occupied Upper Karabakh region.
The two-hour Armenian offensive killed more than 600 Azerbaijani citizens, including women and 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.
The MHP has a voting alliance with Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.
– Embattled Idlib, Syria
Bahceli also criticized Russia stance siding with the Assad regime on the embattled northwestern Syrian province of Idlib.
"Russia's standing behind Syria against Turkey, Russia choosing Syria instead of Turkey is astonishing, and it can't be explained through strategic calculations," Bahceli said.
"Turkey and Russia are not strategic partners, they are not allies, but the political, commercial, economic, and some other relations between the two countries have been developed and strengthened," he added.
Turkey's presence in Idlib, under a 2018 deal with Russia, is right and legitimate, said Bahceli.
Idlib, near Turkey's southern border, falls within a de-escalation zone laid out in a deal between Turkey and Russia in September 2018.
The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the territory, where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
The de-escalation zone is currently home to about four million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.
Turkey has called for an immediate halt to the attacks on Idlib, and for the cease-fire to be followed, urging the international community to take action, otherwise it will.