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World must recognize Karabakh's right to determine status: Armenian president

President Serzh Sarkisian, seen in Yerevan on April 24, 2015, invited the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, or Dashnaktsutyun, to join his government in a controversial power-sharing deal
Kirill Kudryavtsev (AFP/File)
Fragile truce holds in Karabakh after deadly clashes

The global community must recognize the right of the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region to determine its own future, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian said Wednesday after four days of deadly clashes that unsettled the West.

"They want to determine their own fate and their own future," Sarkisian said of the region after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

"They expect only one thing from the international community, namely the recognition of this right."

At least 75 people were reported killed as the festering dispute over the territory -- which was captured from Azerbaijan by Armenian separatists in an early 1990s war -- escalated dramatically on Friday, sparking international concern. 

Azerbaijan's army claimed to have snatched control of several strategic locations inside Armenian-controlled territory, effectively changing the frontline for the first time since an inconclusive truce ended the war in 1994.

Both sides have accused each other of starting the latest outbreak of violence, and it has sparked fears of a wider conflict in the region that could drag in Russia and Turkey. 

Sarkisian accused Azerbaijan of "unilaterally" breaking the peace by taking "hostile action", transforming the region into a "security threat".

He also hit out at Russia. Although Moscow has sold arms to both sides, it has a military alliance with, and a base in, Armenia and far closer ties to Yerevan. 

"It is of course painful for us that Russia and other countries... sell weapons to Azerbaijan," he said.

"But our scope to influence this process is limited."

Merkel called on the two sides "to do everything in their power to stop the bloodshed and loss of life" and said international mediation efforts were "of the greatest urgency".

The German leader also said she would host Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev for talks in June.

Fragile truce holds in Karabakh after deadly clashes

Azerbaijani and Armenian forces said they were largely observing a truce that halted four days of clashes.

"The ceasefire was largely observed overnight along the Karabakh frontline," said the Armenia-backed separatist defense ministry in Karabakh.

Azerbaijan's defense ministry reported isolated firing from the Armenian side but said its forces were "strictly abiding by the ceasefire agreement" reached in Moscow on Tuesday by the army chiefs of the two former Soviet states.

Armenian defence ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan said that sporadic shooting continued on Wednesday "including from tanks" but that it was "not as intensive" as during the last days.

Azerbaijan's army claimed to have wrested back control of several strategic locations inside Armenian-controlled territory, effectively changing the frontline for the first time since an inconclusive truce ended a three-year war in 1994.

The military said it took control of the strategic Lala-Tepe and Talysh heights and the village of Seysulan. 

"Azerbaijani troops are currently reinforcing the liberated territories," the defense ministry in Baku said in a statement.

An AFP journalist in Lala-Tepe heights confirmed that the area was under Azerbaijani control.

Armenia however dismissed the Azeri claims to have regained ground as "untrue."

Staff with agencies

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