Nagorno-Karabakh War, Armenia Ready for Armistice
Windowofworld.com – Armenia says it is ready to work with international mediators to reach a ceasefire with Azerbaijan. The two countries are engaged in a fierce battle over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, which has entered its sixth day.
“Armenia is ready to engage with France, Russia and the United States to rebuild a ceasefire regime,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement as quoted by Al Jazeera, Saturday (3/10/2020).
France, Russia and the United States (US) are co-chairs of the OSCE mediator group for the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh.
However, the statement added: “This aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh will continue to receive our strong and resolute response.”
The developments come after ethnic Armenian officials in the breakaway Nargorno-Karabakh region reported another 54 military casualties among Armenian-backed forces. This brings the death toll in the Armenian stronghold to 158 soldiers.
Azerbaijan itself has not reported any military casualties but says 19 civilians were killed in the shooting by Armenia.
Although the Armenian statement marked the first sign that dialogue could take place, the Turkish Foreign Minister said that in order for Azerbaijan to agree to a ceasefire, Armenia must withdraw its troops.
Speaking at a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio, Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday that the stalemate prompted Armenia to attack and illegally place Armenians onto other countries’ territory.
“If the international community wants to do something about Upper Karabakh, they have to make Armenia leave Azerbaijan soil immediately,” Cavusoglu said, adding that Turkey would support any effort in that direction.
There are fears the clashes could escalate into an all-out multi-front war that could siphon off regional power from Turkey and Russia.
Turkey is Azerbaijan’s strongest supporter on the international scene, while Russia has a military base in Armenia.
Ankara has been accused by Armenia of supplying fighters for the conflict, pulling them out of northern Syria – a charge Turkey and Azerbaijan deny.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan expressed serious concern on Friday over this report, a statement from the Kremlin said.
“Both sides express serious concerns over the information received about involvement in the militant military action of illegal armed groups from the Middle East,” the statement read following a telephone conversation between the two leaders.
French President Macron also slammed Turkey on Thursday, saying intelligence reports showed that 300 fighters from the jihadist group in Syria had passed through Turkey on their way to Azerbaijan.
“The red line has been crossed,” said the French leader, adding that his country was demanding an explanation.
In a joint call on Thursday, Putin, US President Donald Trump and Macron urged the two sides to return to negotiations aimed at resolving a long-standing territorial dispute.
Russia also advised it to make progress on diplomatic efforts with Turkey, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his partner Cavusoglu saying they were ready for “close coordination” to stabilize the situation.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a decades-long dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region that sits inside Azerbaijan but is controlled by ethnic Armenians backed by Yerevan.
Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan during the 1990s war that killed 30,000 people, but is not recognized by any country, including Armenia, as an independent republic.
Fighting periodically breaks out in the region and talks to resolve the conflict have largely stalled since the 1994 ceasefire agreement.
Armenia and Karabakh declared martial law and military mobilization on Sunday, while Azerbaijan imposed a military rule and curfew on major cities.