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Armenian, Azeri Defense Chiefs Discuss Border Skirmishes


Belgium - Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan (L) talks to his Azerbaijani counterpart Safar Abiyev on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels, 22Feb2013.

Belgium - Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan (L) talks to his Azerbaijani counterpart Safar Abiyev on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels, 22Feb2013.

The defense ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan reportedly discussed an apparent upsurge in ceasefire violations along the border between the two countries during a rare conversation on Friday.

Seyran Ohanian and Safar Abiyev briefly spoke to each other on the sidelines of a meeting in Brussels of top defense officials from countries participating in the NATO-led military mission in Afghanistan.

According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, Ohanian urged the Azerbaijani side to honor the ceasefire regime and thus minimize casualties on both sides.

The Azerbaijani military issued no official statements on the conversation. Instead, Azerbaijani news agencies claimed that Ohanian “asked for truce” because of “big losses” suffered by Armenian forces in recent days.

A statement by the Defense Ministry in Yerevan brushed aside that claim. “As always, Azerbaijan is trying to present what is desirable for it as reality,” it said. “The Armenian side has made no secret of the fact that ceasefire violations are unacceptable to it and on various occasions urged the Azerbaijani side not to violate the ceasefire regime. We are talking about losses suffered not only by the Armenian side but mutual losses.”

Ohanian and Abiyev talked the day after both sides reported fresh skirmishes at a western section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontier. Ceasefire violations in the area appear to have become more frequent in recent weeks.

Azerbaijani forces reportedly opened fire from automatic weapons at several border villages in Armenia’s northeastern Tavush province on Thursday evening. The mayors of two of those villages told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) by phone that local residents again had to take cover in their basements. They said the gunshots damaged more houses.

News reports from Baku, meanwhile, said Armenian army units shot at two nearby Azerbaijani villages.
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