Nagorno-Karabakh: third ceasefire attempt shatters

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Stepanakert | A third attempt to end the fighting between the Azerbaijani army and Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh was shattered on Monday, with both sides blaming each other for the “gross violation” of a ceasefire negotiated in Washington.

This “humanitarian truce” in the fighting which has inflamed this mountainous region of the Caucasus since September 27 was to come into effect Monday at 8 am local time (4 am GMT), but the belligerents immediately reported its violation, as in the two previous attempts. weeks.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry accused the Armenian forces of having bombarded the town of Terter and neighboring villages, as well as positions of the Baku army, while ensuring “strict compliance” for its part.

“This shows once again that Armenia only supports the principle of a humanitarian truce in words. In fact, hiding behind the truce, it is trying to regroup (its forces) and try to take new positions, ”said Khikmet Gadjiev, adviser to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Ministry, for its part, denounced enemy artillery fire at its positions in various parts of the front, while saying that the forces under its control “strictly comply with the agreements reached” and that ” accusations of the enemy have nothing to do with reality ”.

The two camps each denounced a “gross violation” of the truce by the opposing party.

This agreement was negotiated over the weekend in Washington during the campaign of US President Donald Trump for his re-election. The latter promised that he would “resolve” this conflict, assuring that it would be “easy”.

A first truce between Yerevan and Baku was concluded in Moscow on October 10 and a second in Paris on October 17. They both shattered very quickly.

Diplomatic stalemate

In Stepanakert, the main city of Nagorno-Karabakh, the night was calm, according to AFP journalists. But 10 minutes before the ceasefire took effect on Monday morning, an explosion sounded and smoke was visible on a nearby hill, and artillery fire was then audible in the distance on two occasions.

The international community has so far proved incapable of negotiating a lasting truce and even more so a peaceful end to the conflict. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have been largely inflexible.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pachinian last week ruled out any “diplomatic solution” to the conflict, calling on volunteers to join the front.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev, for his part, described his opponents as “dogs” or “wild beasts”, judging that any negotiations should be preceded by a withdrawal of Armenian forces from Karabakh, a territory that the international community recognizes as part of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan, on the strength of its oil revenues, has armed itself without counting the costs in recent years, particularly with Russia, Turkey and Israel. Ankara is also accused of having deployed pro-Turkish fighters from Syria in the ongoing conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country traditionally acts as arbiter in the region, said Thursday that the death toll since the end of September has approached 5,000.

Since September 27, Azerbaijani forces have conquered territories beyond Baku’s control since the 1990s and a war, following the fall of the USSR, which left 30,000 dead and led to the secession of this region. today populated almost exclusively by Armenians.

Minsk Group mediators and ministers from the two countries agreed to meet in Geneva on Thursday to discuss “measures necessary to reach a peaceful solution,” according to a separate statement.

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