Turkey 'must show its teeth' to Armenia: Military help for Azerbaijan urged

Hugh Pope
Tuesday 06 April 1993 23:02 BST

POWERFUL voices in Turkey are calling openly for military intervention to help Azerbaijan in its losing battle against Armenia.

Turkey's President, Turgut Ozal, said it should 'show its teeth', and called on the world to use force to roll back last week's Armenian capture of Azeri territory in Kelbadzhar.

Speaking to reporters on a tour of the Turkic states of what was Soviet Central Asia, he said Turkey should have taken military action against Armenia long ago.

Husamettin Cindoruk, Turkey's parliamentary speaker, hinted that perhaps only a troop build-up on the eastern border would deter further Armenian advances out of the disputed enclave of Nagorny-Karabakh into Azerbaijan.

Other officials recall the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, another question of Turkish honour that was not recognised by the international community until too late.

Suleyman Demirel, the Prime Minister, has been trying hard to calm Turkish anger, noting that sending warplanes to patrol the Armenian border would achieve nothing, and warning that Turkey's Western allies in Nato would side with Christian Armenia. 'This is a big chess game and must be played very carefuly,' Mr Demirel said.

Mr Demirel has concentrated on mobilising international and United Nations condemnation of Armenia's occupation, and has refused an Azeri request for helicopters, saying it was technically impossible.

But the conservative, conciliatory 68-year-old Prime Minister has been put in a tough corner by his rivals. Turkey's mercurial public opinion has been whipped up by pictures of the last of 40,000 Azeri refugees being airlifted to safety, lingering anger over Bosnia and a traditional suspicion of Armenians embedded during a century of mutual treachery, massacre and assassination.

Turkey's powerful armed forces are keen to take action. The Foreign Ministry is outraged at being taken for a ride by Armenia during recent peace talks. It is also frustrated that while the West has given it a regional responsibility, it has no tools to match those of Russia.

'You can push Turkey just so far. The US is holding us back, but there is a limit beyond which Armenia should not try to go,' one Turkish diplomat said.

Turkish diplomacy still runs into obstacles because Turkish troops remain in Cyprus. The idea of Turkey repeating such an intervention horrifies moderate opinion and the new business elite of western Turkey, who would suffer most from another round of trade and diplomatic


The United States condemned the Armenian offensive yesterday. The Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, called for a full and immediate withdrawal of all ethnic Armenian forces from the Kelbadzhar district.

In London, the Foreign Office summoned Armenia's ambassador, Armen Sarkissian, to express concern at the renewed fighting.

At the United Nations in New York, the Security Council met to express alarm over the fighting, and demand a ceasefire and withdrawal.

40,000 flee attack, page 12

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