x

Politics

Azerbaijan and Armenia Brush Off Suggestion of Peace Talks

September 30, 2020

YEREVAN, Armenia — Leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia brushed off the suggestion of peace talks Tuesday, accusing each other of obstructing negotiations over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, with dozens killed and injured in three days of heavy fighting.

In the latest incident, Armenia said one of its warplanes was shot down by a fighter jet from Azerbaijan's ally Turkey, killing the pilot, in what would be a major escalation of the violence. Both Turkey and Azerbaijan denied it.

The international community is calling for talks to end the decades-old conflict between the two former Soviet republics in the Caucasus Mountains region following a flareup of violence this week. It centers on Nagorno-Karabakh, a region that lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by the Armenian government since 1994 at the end of a separatist war.

The U.N. Security Council called on Armenia and Azerbaijan Tuesday evening to immediately halt the fighting and urgently resume talks without preconditions. The U.N.'s most powerful body strongly condemned the use of force and backed Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' earlier call to stop the fighting, deescalate tensions, and resume talks "without delay."

Azerbaijani President Ilkham Aliyev told Russian state TV channel Rossia 1 that Baku is committed to negotiating a resolution but that Armenia is obstructing the process. 

"The Armenian prime minister publicly declares that Karabakh is (part of) Armenia, period. In this case, what kind of negotiating process can we talk about?" Aliev said. He added that according to principles brokered by the Minsk group, which was set up in 1992 by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to resolve the conflict, "territories around the former Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region should be transferred to Azerbaijan."

Aliev noted that if Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan says "that Karabakh is Armenia and that we should negotiate with the so-called puppet regime of Nagorno-Karabakh, (he is) trying to break the format of negotiations that has existed for 20 years." 

Pashinyan, in turn, told the broadcaster that "it is very hard to talk about negotiations … when specific military operations are underway." He said there is no military solution to the conflict and called for a compromise. 

But first, Azerbaijan must "immediately end (its) aggression towards Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia," Pashinyan said. "We all perceive this as an existential threat to our nation, we basically perceive it as a war that was declared to the Armenian people, and our people are now simply forced to use the right for self-defense." 

Since Sunday, the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Ministry reported 84 servicemen were killed. Aliyev said 11 civilians were killed on its side, although he didn't detail the country's military casualties.

Both countries accused each other of firing into their territory outside of the Nagorno-Karabakh area on Tuesday.

The separatist region of about 4,400 square kilometers (1,700 square miles), or about the size of the U.S. state of Delaware, is 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Armenian border. Soldiers backed by Armenia also occupy some Azerbaijani territory outside the region.

Armenia also alleged that Turkey, which supports Azerbaijan, was involved. "Turkey, according to our information, looks for an excuse for a broader involvement in this conflict," Pashinyan said. 

The Armenian military said an SU-25 from its air force was shot down in Armenian airspace by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet that took off from Azerbaijan, and the pilot was killed.

The allegation of downing the jet was "absolutely untrue," said Fahrettin Altun, communications director for Turkey's president. Azerbaijani officials called it "another fantasy of the Armenian military propaganda machine."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Armenia to withdraw immediately from the separatist region, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey is "by Azerbaijan's side on the field and at the (negotiating) table."

Armenian officials said that Turkey, a NATO member, is supplying Azerbaijan with fighters from Syria and weapons, including F-16 fighter jets. Both Azerbaijan and Turkey deny it.

Earlier in the day, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry said Armenian forces shelled the Dashkesan region in Azerbaijan. Armenian officials said Azerbaijani forces opened fire on a military unit in the Armenian town of Vardenis, setting a bus on fire and killing one civilian. 

Armenia's Foreign Ministry denied shelling the region and said the reports were laying the groundwork for Azerbaijan "expanding the geography of hostilities, including the aggression against the Republic of Armenia."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pushed for "an immediate cease-fire and a return to the negotiating table" in phone calls with the leaders of both countries, her office said.

She told them the OSCE offers an appropriate forum for talks and that the two countries' neighbors "should contribute to the peaceful solution," said her spokesman, Steffen Seibert.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a visit to Greece that "both sides must stop the violence" and work "to return to substantive negotiations as quickly as possible." 

Russia, which along with France and the United States co-chairs the Minsk group, urged every country to help facilitate a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

"We call on all countries, especially our partners such as Turkey, to do everything to convince the opposing parties to cease fire and return to peacefully resolving the conflict by politico-diplomatic means," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday. 

Putin spoke to Pashinyan on Tuesday for the second time in three days, urging de-escalation and, like the other leaders, an immediate cease-fire. 

RELATED

WASHINGTON — The House panel investigating the Capitol insurrection will hear testimony Tuesday from Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide in Donald Trump’s White House who is a vital witness in the sweeping investigation into the Jan.

Top Stories

General News

FALMOUTH, MA – The police in Falmouth have identified the victim in an accident involving a car plunging into the ocean on February 20, NBC10 Boston reported.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

General News

PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.

Video

Mission…to Alonnisos, a TNH Documentary

O oceanic you sing and sail White on your body and yellow on your chimeneas For you're tired of the filthy waters of the harbors You who loved the distant Sporades You who lifted the tallest flags You who sail clear through the most dangerous caves Hail to you who let yourself be charmed by the sirens Hail to you for never having been afraid of the Symplegades (Andreas Empeirikos)   What traveler has not been fascinated by the Greek islands, drawn by the Sirens’ song of a traveler’s dreams? TNH and our video show ‘Mission’ marked the change of the season by transporting viewers into the heart of summer.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.