US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — After a deadly clash between Armenia and Azerbaijan, killing 14 people, American politicians are calling for detente between the two former Soviet republics.
The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh erupted in the early 1990s, when both countries gained independence from the USSR. In 1994, the parties agreed on a ceasefire, but did not reach a permanent peace agreement at international negotiations.
This week’s events, when the bloodiest clashes in recent years erupted along the border, threaten to undermine the peace process. The fighting began on Sunday, and by noon on Tuesday killed at least sixteen people, including the Azerbaijani Major General.
“The United States strongly condemns violence on the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said on Monday. “We urge the parties to immediately cease the use of force, take advantage of existing direct lines of communication to avoid further escalation, and adhere strictly to the ceasefire.”
The United States, France and Russia are co-chairs of the Minsk group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. This coalition of countries oversees the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process.
Ed Markey, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a Democrat from Massachusetts, called on Azerbaijan to withdraw troops.
“I support Armenia because they defend their territorial integrity,” he wrote in a statement on social networks. “Azerbaijan and Turkey must respect the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, respect the aspirations of the Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh and immediately end this conflict.”
The United States recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh as Azerbaijan land, but the disputed territory is controlled by the pro-Armenian government and calls itself the Republic of Artsakh.
The population of the territory is mainly ethnic Armenians, however, at the same time, Karabakh was part of the Azerbaijan SSR from 1921 to 1991. Amid ethnic conflicts and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Karabakh tried to get out of Baku’s power, as a result of which a war broke out between the newly formed republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Both sides blamed each other for unleashing the fighting this week. A few days before the aggravation, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev accused Armenia of delaying “meaningless” peace negotiations.
In a Sunday statement, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry accused the Armenian forces of trying to seize the territory of the Tovuz region.
“Armenia bears full responsibility for these provocative actions, which contribute to the aggravation of the situation,” the ministry said.
However, the Armenian Foreign Ministry accused the Azerbaijani forces of “provocative actions” and “constant attempts to escalate”.
“We strongly condemn the provocative actions of the Azerbaijani armed forces, and with their resumption, the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan will be fully responsible for the unpredictable consequences of undermining regional stability,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote on Monday.
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