July 17, 2020 / 11:02 AM / 21 days ago

Turkish defence industry says it can support Azerbaijan

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s defence industry chief said on Friday that his sector was ready to help Azerbaijan, which has seen border clashes with Armenia in which 16 people have been killed.

Turkey has strong historical and cultural ties with Azerbaijan, as well as joint energy projects.

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that it would not hesitate to “stand against any attack” on Azerbaijan and that Armenia was “out of its depth” in the conflict.

On Friday, Defence Industry Director Ismail Demir tweeted that “Our defence industry, with all its experience, technology and capabilities, from our armed drones to our ammunition and missiles and our electronic warfare systems, is always at the disposal of Azerbaijan!”.

Fifteen soldiers from both sides and one civilian have died since Sunday in the clashes between the neighbouring former Soviet republics, which fought a war in the 1990s over the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region.

International concern is high because of the threat to stability in a region that hosts pipelines taking oil and gas from the Caspian Sea to global markets.

Demir, who met Azerbaijan’s deputy defence minister and air force commander Ramiz Tahirov in Ankara, said Turkey would help to modernise Azerbaijan’s army.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said Armenia had started the border clashes, and that it would be “drowned under the plot that they initiated”.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Dominic Evans and Kevin Liffey

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