Fresh clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh threaten ceasefire sponsored by US
BAKU/YEREVAN (AZERBAIJAN/ARMENIA) – Casting a shadow over the prospects of the latest global push to end clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia and Azerbaijan blamed each other for violating a US-brokered truce in the mountain region.
In a televised address, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said he wanted to resolve the conflict “by political and military means” and stressed the demand that ethnic Armenian troops should leave the region in order for the fighting to come to a stop.
On his Facebook page, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that Armenia “continued to adhere to the ceasefire.”
A third truce in Nagorno-Karabakh was agreed on Sunday after talks in Washington between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Minutes after it came into force at 8 am local time (0400 GMT), the defence ministry of Azerbaijan said that Armenian forces had shelled villages in the Terter and Lachin regions.
Nagorno-Karabakh authorities have denied this. The defence ministry said Azeri troops fired missiles at Armenian positions on the northeastern side on the line of contact and Baku fighter jets violated the ceasefire.
The defence ministry of Armenia said Azerbaijan flouted the truce at 9.10 am local time.
For Armenians, Nagorno-Karabakh is part of their historic homeland while Azeris consider it illegally occupied territory which must be returned to them. About 30,000 people were killed in the region during a war lasting between 1991 and 1994.
In his address, Aliyev slammed the OSCE Minsk Group formed to mediate the conflict. It is led by France, Russia and the United States and its representatives took part in Sunday’s talks and its co-chairs have agreed to meet again with the two foreign ministers in Geneva on Oct. 29.
“For almost 30 years, the Minsk Group co-chairs have tried to reconcile Azerbaijan with the process of freezing the conflict, but we have created a new reality,” Aliyev said. “We are fed up with these negotiations. How long can you negotiate?”