Azerbaijan, Armenia begin talks over disputed region

Published October 10, 2020
STEPANAKERT (Nagorno-Karabakh): Smoke rises in the main city of this disputed region on Friday after shelling during the ongoing fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces.—AFP
STEPANAKERT (Nagorno-Karabakh): Smoke rises in the main city of this disputed region on Friday after shelling during the ongoing fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces.—AFP

TEPANAKERT: Armenia and Azerbaijan held their first high-level talks on Friday after nearly two weeks of fierce clashes over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, with hopes rising that a ceasefire could be brokered in Moscow.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who has repeatedly vowed to use his military to retake the breakaway province, said the talks represented a historic opportunity for Armenia.

“We are giving Armenia a chance to settle the conflict peacefully,” he said. “This is their last chance.”

Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said his country was “ready for the resumption of the peace process” led by international brokers.

France, which along with Russia and the United States is part of a group mediating the two countries’ long conflict, said there was a chance of a breakthrough at the talks but it was far from certain.

“We are moving towards a truce tonight or tomorrow but it’s still fragile,” Presi­dent Emmanuel Macron’s office said in a statement.

Armenian and Azerbai­jani defence officials said heavy clashes continued overnight and reported further civilian deaths, after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the meeting in Moscow late on Thursday and appealed for a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds.

Shelling started again on Friday in Stepanakert, the provincial capital of Karabakh, where a journalist heard several loud explosions and saw the remains of a rocket in a crater next to a cemetery for dead soldiers.

Renewed fighting over Karabakh — an ethnic Armenian region of Azerbaijan that broke from Baku’s control in a devastating war in the early 1990s — has claimed some 400 lives and forced thousands of people from their homes.

The heavy clashes erupted late last month, with both sides blaming the other for the biggest outbreak in violence since a 1994 ceasefire left the status of Karabakh in limbo.

The region’s declaration of independence has not been recognised by any country — not even Armenia — and the international community regards it as part of Azerbaijan.

The Kremlin said late on Thursday that following a series of calls with Pashin­yan and Aliyev, Putin had invited their foreign ministers to Moscow and called for an end to hostilities “to exchange dead bodies and prisoners”.

Putin’s announcement of the talks came shortly after mediators from France, Russia and the US launched their first efforts to ease the crisis in Geneva.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2020

Opinion

Editorial

Price bombs
17 Jun, 2024

Price bombs

THERE was a time not too long ago when the faces we see sitting in government today would cry themselves hoarse over...
Palestine’s plight
Updated 17 Jun, 2024

Palestine’s plight

While the faithful across the world are celebrating with their families, thousands of Palestinian children have either been orphaned, or themselves been killed by the Israeli aggressors.
Profiting off denied visas
17 Jun, 2024

Profiting off denied visas

IT is no secret that visa applications to the UK and Schengen countries come at a high cost. But recent published...
After the deluge
Updated 16 Jun, 2024

After the deluge

There was a lack of mental fortitude in the loss against India while against US, the team lost all control and displayed a lack of cohesion and synergy.
Fugue state
16 Jun, 2024

Fugue state

WITH its founder in jail these days, it seems nearly impossible to figure out what the PTI actually wants. On one...
Sindh budget
16 Jun, 2024

Sindh budget

SINDH’S Rs3.06tr budget for the upcoming financial year is a combination of populist interventions, attempts to...