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Citing Turkey’s absence, Azerbaijan skips EU-sponsored talks with Armenia in Spain

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev skipped peace talks between the two countries after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan backed out due to illness.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, President of the European Council Charles Michel, and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan scotched Thursday's planned visit to the Spanish city of Granada, where he was expected to discuss the crisis in the South Caucasus with the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Germany, France and other members of the European Union, after catching a cold, Turkish media reported.

The announcement came as Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that he too would be skipping the EU-brokered event. Citing unnamed sources, Azerbaijani media said that Aliyev had decided against the meeting after France and Germany allegedly objected to Erdogan’s participation in it. Omer Celik, spokesperson for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, confirmed that Aliyev had spurned the gathering to show solidarity with Erdogan. “We appreciate Azerbaijan’s decision,” Celik said.

The talks were meant to take place on the sidelines of a meeting in Grenada of the European Political Community. The Turkish leader was coming at the invitation of Spain.

Why it matters: Turkey is Azerbaijan’s closest regional ally and in 2020 helped the oil-rich state seize back territories occupied by Armenia in an earlier war. Last week, Azerbaijani forces took back full control of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but was under Armenian control. The lightning assault saw the enclave’s majority Armenian population flee en masse and its self-declared civilian and military administration capitulate in the course of 10 days.

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