Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country is ready to open a consulate in Shusha, a city that Azerbaijan took from Armenian forces in a war in 2020.
Erdogan made the comment during a visit to Azerbaijan at the start of his third term in office following the presidential elections last month.
“We are ready to open our consulate whenever you wish,” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Erdogan as telling Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and other officials at the start of bilateral talks.
“If we can open a consulate in Shusha, this would be a message to the world and especially to Armenia,” he said.
Shusha, a center of Azeri culture for centuries, came under Armenian control in 1992 in fighting over the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region. Its retaking by Azerbaijan’s forces in 2020 was of symbolic and strategic importance because it sits high above the region’s nearby capital, Stepanakert.
Turkey actively supported Azerbaijan in the last conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, in which Azerbaijan regained control of much of the region and Armenian-held surrounding territories. More than 6,000 people were killed in six weeks of fighting.
Turkey and Azerbaijan have close ethnic and cultural bonds. It is traditional for newly elected Turkish leaders to visit Azerbaijan following a trip to the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the island nation’s north. Erdogan was in the occupied territories of Cyprus on Monday.