French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday condemned what he called Turkey's "reckless and dangerous" statements backing Azerbaijan in its bid to take back the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Ankara said on Tuesday it was "fully ready" to help Azerbaijan recover Nagorno-Karabakh, as armed conflict escalated with neighbouring Armenia over the region.
"I have noted Turkey's political statements which I think are reckless and dangerous," Macron told reporters in Latvia's capital Riga during a visit to the Baltic EU state.
"France remains extremely concerned about the bellicose comments that Turkey made in the last hours, which essentially remove any inhibitions from Azerbaijan in what would be a reconquest of northern Karabakh. That we will not accept," he added.
He also appeared to voice support for Yerevan: "I say to Armenia and to the Armenians, France will play its role."
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu promptly responded to Macron’s comments in an interview with state-run Anadolu news agency in which he said that French solidarity with Armenia amounted to supporting Armenian "occupation" of the region.
Despite the escalation, Macron said it was too soon to speak of a regional conflict.
He said he would discuss the tensions with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday evening and US President Donald Trump on Thursday before reporting on the situation to the European Council of EU leaders.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked for decades in a territorial dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh and have blamed each other for sparking fierce clashes that erupted on Sunday and have since caused nearly 100 confirmed deaths.
UN calls for end to fighting
The two sides have so far defied calls for a ceasefire.
Ankara has backed Azerbaijan in the conflict and on Tuesday the Armenian defence ministry said a Turkish F-16 jet flying in support of Baku's forces had downed an Armenian SU-25 warplane. Ankara fiercely denied the claim.
Direct Turkish military action against Armenia would mark a major escalation after three days of heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russia also called on Turkey, which views Azerbaijan as its close ally and Armenia as its historic foe, to stop proclaiming support for Azerbaijan and to work toward a diplomatic solution to the escalation, the deadliest since 2016.
The European Union on Monday warned regional powers not to interfere in fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, and condemned a "serious escalation" that threatens regional stability.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)