UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS BY TURKISH DEFENSE MINISTER; ADDS BACKGROUND
By Sarp Ozer
ANKARA (AA) - The Turkish national defense minister on Thursday slammed a so-called resolution in the French Senate urging the recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh as "a republic".
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Hulusi Akar said: "[The decision] once again showed that France is part of the problem not the solution in the Karabakh issue," noting that France has to be unbiased due to its position as the co-chair in OSCE Minsk Group.
The group, also co-chaired by Russia and the US, was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict
Earlier Wednesday, the French Senate adopted a resolution, calling for the recognition of the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh republic.
"The decision taken by the French Senate is a clear indicator of why the Karabakh issue has not been resolved for 30 years," said Akar.
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
New clashes erupted on Sept. 27 and ended with a Russian-brokered truce six weeks later.
- 'French attempts clearly violate maritime freedom in Med'
On the illegal search of a Turkish-flagged commercial ship by an EU operation to enforce a Libya arms embargo, Akar said the responsible parties are trying to "blame each other as they are aware it was illegal."
"Following the statements made on the incident, we could clearly see that everyone is refraining from taking responsibility. They [responsible parties] are trying to blame each other because they know the incident was against international law," he noted.
Recalling France’s allegations that two Turkish frigates harassed the French warship Courbet on June 10, Akar stressed that the responsible parties are aiming to "conceal and distort the facts, and are running away" to avoid the responsibility about the latest incident "which has no legal basis and is not well-founded."
"By the way, I would like to remind you that we are still following the Courbet incident and France still owes a delayed apology," he added.
On Nov 22, a German frigate under the EU’s Operation Irini boarded and inspected the Turkish-flagged merchant cargo vessel Roseline A, in a move that drew sharp condemnations from Turkey.
Neither Turkey nor the captain gave permission for the search at gunpoint, which turned up nothing illicit, according to official statements.
Turkey is "aware" of attempts to link "controversial and biased" Operation Irini with NATO activities, said the Turkish minister, adding: "France is trying to justify this operation, which clearly violates maritime freedoms in the Mediterranean, by associating it with NATO. We [Turkey] are against such attempts."
He also reminded NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg's remarks on the matter and said the NATO had reminded all "contributions and significance" of Turkey to the alliance.
Akar also commented on a recently signed contract between the Afghan government and UAE-based consortium on handling ground services at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, and other airports in the country.
Turkish minister expressed "respect to Afghanistan as a sovereign state" but said, however, "taking the UAE's hostile attitude towards Turkey into account, we think it's necessary to reconsider this decision from legal and operational perspectives because we [Turkey] are responsible for the security of Kabul's airport."
* Writing by Merve Aydogan.