Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Nagorno-Karabakh 04/05/2016

Azerbaijan tells Armenia to 'free occupied territories,' sends letters to UN, NATO, EU

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. © Asatur Yesayants
5 April, 2016

Azerbaijan has set conditions for ceasefire in the troubled Nagorny-Karabakh region, saying that Armenia must withdraw from "occupied territories." Meanwhile, Armenia has said it would recognize the region's independence if the situation on the ground worsens.

"In accordance with UN Security Council resolutions, Armenia must free all occupied territories, and provide complete territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan, recognized on international level," head of Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry's press-service Khikmet Gadzhiev said on Monday, as quoted by RIA Novosti.

In relation to the current situation on the confrontation line in Nagorny-Karabakh, Baku's Foreign Minister Elmar Mamediarov had addressed a number of international organizations, Gadzhiev said. Letters to UN and NATO chiefs have been sent, as well as to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, informing them of "constant shelling of populated areas by Armenian army and deaths of civilians," he added.

According to the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Baku's standpoint is "peaceful," as it's Armenia who continues shelling Azerbaijani positions and residential areas amid the earlier announced unilateral cessation of hostilities by Azerbaijan.

On Monday, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry released a statement claiming that an intensive shelling has been launched from the Armenian side. "In the morning fighting, three Azerbaijani servicemen were killed. The Ministry also said that the Armenian side has suffered big losses, but the exact numbers have not been given," head of Sputnik agency in Azerbaijan, Aziz Aliev told RT.

He added that according to the military's information, Yerevan is using large-caliber weapons, including mortars and grenade launchers.

At the same time, the Azerbaijan Defense Ministry has released footage of its military counterattack on an Armenian troops' command post. A video showed the destruction of the facility in a pinpoint strike.

The Armenian Defense Ministry then said that it would deliver an "adequate strike" should Azerbaijan continue shelling Karabakh.

Meanwhile, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said his country would continue to provide safety for the people in Nagorny-Karabakh, and would recognize the region's independence if military activities escalate in the area.

"Being a participant in the 1994 ceasefire agreement, the Republic of Armenia will continue to fully carry out its obligations in providing security for the population in Nagorny-Karabakh. Moreover, I have tasked the Foreign Ministry to start working on a military cooperation treaty with Karabakh," Sargsyan said on Monday, as quoted by his press service.

Speaking to OSCE representatives in Yerevan, the president warned that should military action in the region continue and expand, Armenia would "recognize the independence of the Nagorny-Karabakh republic." He added that escalation of the conflict threatens "security and stability not only in the South Caucasus, but also in the European region."

Baku plans to continue the peace talks, political analyst, Baku Western University professor and former diplomat Fikret Sadykhov told RT. Claiming that Azerbaijan is not the aggressor, he expressed hopes that with the involvement of international community the conflict would not develop into a "full-scale war." During the two days of the conflict escalation, at least 33 people have been killed and over 200 injured, according to the UN.

A number of countries have already addressed the two nations calling for immediate cessation of hostilities in the region and peaceful settlement. Both Russia's foreign and defense ministries have contacted their Yerevan and Baku counterparts, expressing concerns and passing President Putin's message to immediately stop violating the ceasefire, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the media on Monday.

Georgia expressed its willingness to become a mediator in the Baku-Yerevan talks, the head of its army General Staff Vakhtang Kapanadze announced, saying that Georgia "is one of the countries who is on good terms with the both sides."

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