US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for the implementation of a ceasefire in the disputed Nagorno Karabakh region between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and a return to “serious” negotiations to resolve the conflict, in light of the continuing fighting in several axes in the region following the renewed clashes about a month ago.
The US State Department said in a statement that the minister met, on Friday, separately in Washington, with his Armenian counterparts Zahrab Manatsakanyan and Jihon Permov, and stressed the need to end the violence and protect civilians.
Pompeo stressed the need for Baku and Yerevan to start “serious” negotiations under the auspices of the “Minsk” group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The US State Department statement stated that resolving the dispute over Karabakh “must be based on the principles of the Helsinki Document relating to the non-use of military force and the right of peoples to self-determination.”
Prior to the meetings with the Azerbaijani and Armenian ministers, Pompeo said previous ceasefire agreements between the two sides had not held up. Armenia and Azerbaijan had reached a humanitarian truce agreement a week ago with Russian mediation, but the truce quickly collapsed hours after it took effect.
For his part, US President Donald Trump said yesterday that “good progress” is being made on the Karabakh case, but he did not go into details. He also refused to disclose whether he had spoken with any of the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Both sides’ statements
For his part, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister said that he had asked his US counterpart that Armenia put an end to its “occupation” of Nagorny Karabakh, stressing Baku’s commitment to finding a diplomatic solution to the conflict. On the other hand, the Armenian Foreign Minister accused Baku authorities of causing violence in the disputed region, and also accused Turkey of being directly involved in the conflict “through military technical support to Azerbaijan, and sending terrorists to the region.”
In a related context, the European Union and Washington called for an immediate cessation of “hostilities” between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and respect for the agreed ceasefire. The US Secretary of State – during a phone call with Commissioner for Security and Foreign Policy of the European Union, Josep Borrell – urged the two parties to the conflict to re-engage in “meaningful negotiations under the auspices of the Minsk Group.” The two officials called on the parties to the conflict and external forces to refrain from actions that may increase the risks in the region.
America, Russia and France co-chair the Minsk Group.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of responsibility for starting the escalation in the region and targeting civilians since the start of the clashes in the mountainous region of Azerbaijan, according to United Nations decisions, which is controlled by Armenian separatists backed by Yerevan.
On the field level, on Friday, Azerbaijani forces clashed with Armenian forces in several regions in the Karabakh region, and the Armenian Ministry of Defense said that the town of Martoni was bombed again during the night, which was denied by Azerbaijan, which expressed concern about the security of its pipelines, which transport oil and gas. Across the South Caucasus to world markets, the lines near combat zones. None of these lines have been damaged yet.
Azeri forces say they have made gains on the ground, including full control of the border with Iran, but Armenia denies this. The “Republic of Nagorny Karabakh”, which is not recognized internationally, says that its forces have repeatedly repelled Azeri attacks, and that it is in control of the situation.
It is noteworthy that the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Karabakh region dates back more than 25 years, and about 30 thousand were killed because of it in a war that lasted from 1991 to 1994, and the Armenians say that the region is part of their historical national homeland, while Azerbaijan says it is part of its territory, It is subject to the Armenian occupation.