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Karabakh Denies Azerbaijan Shot Down Armenian Drones


Armenia - An Armenian-made drone is driven through Yerevan's Republic Square during a military parade rehearsal, 19Sep2011.

Armenia - An Armenian-made drone is driven through Yerevan's Republic Square during a military parade rehearsal, 19Sep2011.

Military authorities in Stepanakert have denied Azerbaijani reports claiming that two Armenian unmanned aerial vehicles were shot down near the Line of Contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s Defense Ministry said late on Thursday that the information released by the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan “does not correspond to the reality”.

Azerbaijan made similar claims also in early July, but Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh then also denied that two Armenian drones were brought down by Azerbaijani forces.

Stepanakert also denied last month that two Armenian tanks were blown up by anti-tank mines during military drills in the conflict zone. Azerbaijan then also claimed there were casualties among the crews of the tanks. But that information was not confirmed either.

Despite sporadic shooting and occasional skirmishes the situation along the Line of Contact between Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian troops and Azerbaijani armed forces as well as at the volatile border between Armenia and Azerbaijan has remained relatively calm since the beginning of this year when the latest serious upsurge in ceasefire violations was observed, with both sides then reporting casualties.

Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of more truce violations in late July, but despite persisting tensions no major loss of life or border violence in the conflict zone were reported in the past several weeks.

Observers in Armenia link this relative calm on the frontlines with the European Games that Baku hosted in June.

Following their latest tour of the conflict zone last month, the American, Russian and French co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group, the main international format advancing a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, issued a statement on July 23, saying that the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev, were ready to meet later this year in another attempt to revive the peace process.

The international mediators did not elaborate on the specific date or venue of the possible meeting. But some analysts in Yerevan have speculated that such a meeting may take place already in September on the margins of the next United Nations General Assembly session in New York.

Meanwhile, talking to reporters in Yerevan this week, Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian said that attempts by the OSEC Minsk Group to organize a meeting on Nagorno-Karabakh at the level of the presidents fail because “the Azerbaijani side behaves unconstructively.” Ohanian also spoke about some other obstacles, including “the existence of different approaches to resolving the issue” and “the political situation that has been formed today.”

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