Turkey to send soldiers for Karabakh ‘peacekeeping center’

Turkey to send soldiers for Karabakh ‘peacekeeping center’
Police officers walk along a street in front of flags of Azerbaijan and Turkey and portraits of Ilham Aliyev and Recep Tayyip Erdogan hanging on a cable above it in Baku on November 9, 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 16 November 2020

Turkey to send soldiers for Karabakh ‘peacekeeping center’

Turkey to send soldiers for Karabakh ‘peacekeeping center’
  • Erdogan’s request followed two days of talks in Ankara with Russian officials
  • Turkey is one of Azerbaijan’s closest allies

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked parliament Monday to authorize sending soldiers to Azerbaijan to establish a “peacekeeping center” with Russia to monitor a truce over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Erdogan’s request followed two days of talks in Ankara with Russian officials about how the two regional powers intend to jointly implement a Russian-brokered cease-fire signed last week.
Turkey is one of Azerbaijan’s closest allies and has strongly defended its right to reclaim lands it lost to ethnic Armenian separatists in a 1988-94 war.
The Russia-brokered deal brought an end to more than six weeks of fighting that claimed more than 1,400 lives and saw ethnic Armenians to agree to withdraw from large parts of the contested region of Azerbaijan.
Erdogan asked parliament Monday to deploy a mission to “establish a joint center with Russia and to carry out the center’s activities.”
The deployment would be active for one year and its size determined by Erdogan.
Russia is sending 1,960 peacekeepers as well as armored personnel carriers and other military equipment to monitor the truce deal.
Moscow has stressed repeatedly that Turkey will have no troops on the ground under the truce deal’s terms.
The Russian-brokered agreement states that a “peacekeeping center is being deployed to control the cease-fire” but does not specify its formal role.


Istanbul court resumes trial of Turks in Ghosn escape case

Istanbul court resumes trial of Turks in Ghosn escape case
Updated 20 January 2021

Istanbul court resumes trial of Turks in Ghosn escape case

Istanbul court resumes trial of Turks in Ghosn escape case
  • Trial is trying to piece together the details of how former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn fled Japan in December 2019

ISTANBUL: An Istanbul court on Wednesday resumed the trial of seven Turkish suspects accused of helping smuggle former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn “in a large musical instrument case” from Japan to Lebanon.
The trial is trying to piece together the details of how Ghosn — a French-Lebanese-Brazilian national who was a global business superstar when his career came crashing to an end — fled Japan in December 2019 while out on bail facing financial misconduct charges.
The 66-year-old fugitive was arrested in November 2018 and spent 130 days in prison before completing an audacious escape act that humiliated Japanese justice officials and raised questions about who was involved.
The hearing concerns an employee with Turkey’s MNG Jet private airline who allegedly used four pilots and two flight attendants to move Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon via Istanbul.
The pilots and the MNG Jet employee are accused of “illegally smuggling a migrant” and face up to eight years in jail. A hearing in July released them on bail but barred them from leaving Turkey.
The two flight attendants are accused of failing to report a crime and face one-year sentences.
All seven suspects deny the charges.
The indictment says the escape plan from Japan to Lebanon involved a stopover in Istanbul instead of a direct flight “so as not to arouse suspicions.”
Former US Green Beret member Michael Taylor and his son Peter are accused together with Lebanese national George-Antoine Zayek of recruiting MNG Jet and overseeing the secret operation.
The Taylors are currently fighting extradition from the United States to Japan and the whereabouts of Zayek are unclear.
The indictment says Taylor and Zayek put Ghosn “in a large musical instrument case” and then took him through security at Japan’s Osaka airport.
They allegedly opened “70 holes at the bottom of the case for him to breathe easily.”
The indictment says the plane landed at Istanbul’s old Ataturk airport and parked near another plane bound for Beirut.
MNG Jet employee Okan Kosemen then allegedly jumped off the Osaka plane and boarded the one destined for Beirut together with Ghosn.
The indictment says Kosemen received several payments into his bank account totalling 216,800 euros and 66,990 dollars in the months before Ghosn’s flight.
He is also accused of being paid an unidentified amount after Ghosn’s arrival in Beirut.
Kosemen has denied being paid to help Ghosn escape while the pilots and flight attendants say they were unaware he was on board any of the plane’s flights.
MNG filed a complaint last year alleging its aircraft was used illegally.
It added at the time that one its employees had admitted to falsifying the flight manifest to keep Ghosn off the passenger list.