Obey truce with Baku, Turkey tells Yerevan
ANKARAAnkara has called on Yerevan to obey a cease-fire in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, where recent clashes killed at least 30 soldiers from both sides, according to reports, as the world called on both parties to ease tension in the region.
“We invite Armenia to observe the cease-fire and immediately put an end to the clashes,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said April 2. “We condemn the artillery fire launched against Azerbaijan on the line of contact and the attacks by Armenia affecting also the civilian population on the night of April 1 to 2.”
Fierce clashes left at least 30 Azerbaijani and Armenian soldiers dead April 2 in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said 18 Armenian troops were killed and some 35 wounded, while Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said 12 of its soldiers were killed in the clashes and a military helicopter shot down.
Azerbaijan on April 3 announced a unilateral cease-fire after the worst outbreak of violence in decades over the region, but Armenian forces insisted clashes were continuing despite international pressure to stop the fighting.
The Defense Ministry in Baku said “Azerbaijan, showing good will, has decided to unilaterally cease hostilities,” but threatened to strike back if its forces came under attack.
Baku also pledged to “reinforce” several strategic positions it claimed to have “liberated” inside the Armenian-controlled region, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.
Ethnic Armenians backed by Yerevan seized control of the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh region, which was part of Azerbaijan during the Soviet period, during a war the early 1990s which claimed the lives of some 30,000 people.
A 1994 cease-fire failed to lead to a peace deal, with clashes erupting regularly and the two countries remaining on a war footing.
A spokesman for the Karabakh presidency, David Babayan, told AFP that fighting had not halted along the frontline.
“Fierce fighting is under way on southeastern and northeastern sectors of the Karabakh frontline,” he said.
Aliyev says Azerbaijan won ‘a great victory’
İlham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan, said they had given the necessary response to the enemy.
“We have won a great military victory at the military operation that was conducted as a response to provocation,” said Aliyev, according to Doğan News Agency. “The necessary response has been given to the enemy.”
Erdoğan said April 3 in Istanbul after an almost week-long visit to the United States, said he called Aliyev to convey his condolences the moment he heard about the clashes.
“When I heard about the issue, I called my brother İlham Aliyev. He was on the way to the airport to return to Azerbaijan. We extended our condolences and at that time, the clashes were continuing. However, I just learned that Azerbaijan is ready to declare a cease-fire if Armenia first declares a cease-fire,” Erdoğan told reporters.
Putin calls for ‘immediate end to fighting’
World leaders called both parties to ease the tension in the region.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an immediate end to fighting along the frontline, the Kremlin said.
“President Putin calls on the parties in the conflict to observe an immediate ceasefire and exercise restraint in order to prevent further casualties,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged a peaceful settlement to the dispute.
Biden “expressed concern about continued violence, called for dialogue, and emphasized the importance of a comprehensive settlement for the long-term stability, security, and prosperity of the region,” the White House said.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the reports of heavy fighting were “deeply worrying” and called on all sides to “avoid any further actions or statements that could result in escalation.”
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is also the chairperson of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), called on both sides “to immediately stop fighting and to fully respect the cease-fire.”
French President François Hollande said he was saddened about the fatal clashes in the region and urged both parties to return to a state of cease-fire.
The United Nations has also called on the parties involved to put an immediate end to the fighting and to respect the ceasefire agreement.
Metin Ataç, a member of the advisory board of the Caspian Strategy Institute (HASEN) and former commander of the Turkish Naval Forces, said the preliminary information on the current situation in Karabakh showed that this time the clashes were more serious than previous clashes, adding that the “occupation must end right away.”