Putin, Erdogan urge Armenia-Azerbaijan peace talks

Mourners attend the funeral of Major Garush Hambardzumyan, who was killed in recent border clashes between the armed forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan, in Yerevan, Armenia, July 16. (Reuters)
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Updated 27 July 2020

Putin, Erdogan urge Armenia-Azerbaijan peace talks

  • Putin and Erdogan said the dispute must be settled “on the basis of international law in the interests of the peoples of Armenia and Azerbaijan”
  • The uptick in violence has been unusual as it broke out hundreds of kilometers from Karabakh, Azerbaijan’s southwestern region seized by Armenian separatists in a 1990s war

YEREVAN, Armenia: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call Monday called for peace talks to end clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Kremlin said.
The phone call at Turkey’s initiative took place after Armenia’s military said one of its soldiers was killed by sniper fire from across the border with Azerbaijan in the latest bout of deadly violence.
Border clashes erupted in mid-July between the ex-Soviet republics, which have for decades been locked in a conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorny Karabakh.
Nineteen people — including the Armenian soldier — have been killed on both sides in the recent border clashes so far.
Putin and Erdogan discussed the conflict and the Russian strongman “underlined the importance of not allowing any actions that promote an escalation in tensions,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

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Regional powerbroker Moscow as well as Western powers have called for an immediate de-escalation amid fears that Russia and Turkey, which supports Azerbaijan, could be drawn into a confrontation.
Both Putin and Erdogan said they backed “resolving the conflict situation exclusively in a peaceful way, through talks.”
Russia has offered to mediate peace talks between the South Caucasus countries.
Putin and Erdogan said the dispute must be settled “on the basis of international law in the interests of the peoples of Armenia and Azerbaijan,” the Kremlin said.
Armenia’s defense ministry on Monday said that one of its troops was “killed by sniper fire from the direction of the enemy” overnight — after a week of relative calm on the border.
Azerbaijan for its part accused Armenia of using “large calibre machine guns and sniper rifles” and violating a cease-fire multiple times along the border over the past 24 hours.
The uptick in violence has been unusual as it broke out hundreds of kilometers (miles) from Karabakh, Azerbaijan’s southwestern region seized by ethnic Armenian separatists in a 1990s war that claimed 30,000 lives.
The recent violence has included artillery shelling and mortar fire, with both sides blaming one another and Azerbaijan threatening to strike Armenia’s nuclear power station if its strategic facilities were attacked.


Philippine president to make UN General Assembly debut

Updated 35 min 20 sec ago

Philippine president to make UN General Assembly debut

  • Duterte is one of the speakers on the first day of the high-level general debate, which ends on Sept. 26

MANILA: For the first time since he became president four years ago, the Philippines’ tough-talking leader Rodrigo Duterte will take part in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday.

The meeting will be virtual due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“This will be the president’s first time to address the UN General Assembly,” Robert Borje, chief of presidential protocol, told a press briefing on Monday, saying that this year’s meeting was of historic significance as it marked the UN’s 75th anniversary.

Duterte is one of the speakers on the first day of the high-level general debate, which ends on Sept. 26.

He is expected to talk about the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, peace and security, human rights, and geopolitical developments in Asia-Pacific, as well as other issues.

Duterte’s participation in the event is significant, mainly because he had threatened to pull the Philippines out of the UN in the early days of his presidency after facing criticism over his bloody war on drugs. He later backtracked, saying that he was “only joking.”

The theme for this year’s UNGA session is: “The future we want, the United Nations we need: Reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism — confronting COVID-19 through effective multilateral action.”

Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozker, who is president of the 75th UNGA, will preside over the meeting. Brazil is the first speaker, followed by the US, Turkey, China, Chile, South Africa, Cuba, the Russian Federation, Jordan, South Korea, Qatar, Philippines, Iran and France.

Borje was asked what had made Duterte decide to take part. He replied that the president’s participation had always been considered since the beginning of his term.

“But of course this year takes on special significance because it’s the 75th anniversary. But more than just that, the milestone landmark … It’s the intensity and the urgency needed to address global issues. The president recognizes that the Philippines cannot do it alone, and the United Nations is the world’s biggest platform where one country can articulate a country’s principled position on many items and many issues. And this is why he decided to join the UN General Assembly high-level debate this month.”

The world can expect to hear the president articulate the country’s positions on a range of issues — including his controversial war on drugs. 

“Yes,” said Borje. “That will be part of the president’s speech. He will address issues on human rights and justice.”

Duterte is also expected to raise the issue of the Philippines’ claims in the West Philippine Sea as his speech will also touch on peace and security, including terrorism.

The Philippines was one of the founding members of the UN, signing the UN Declaration in 1942.