Armenia accused Azerbaijan on Monday of sabotaging fresh peace talks planned by international mediators after an Armenian soldier was killed in Nagorno-Karabakh in what military authorities there called an Azerbaijani armed incursion.
Karabakh’s Defense Army said that Azerbaijani “sabotage groups” attacked its positions overnight at two different sections of the “line of contact” around the disputed territory. In a statement, the Armenia-backed army said its soldiers repelled the simultaneous attacks.
One of the soldiers, Sergeant Armen Hovannisian, was shot dead in the firefights, added the statement. Karabakh President Bako Sahakian posthumously awarded Hovannisian a medal the following morning.
The Karabakh military claimed to have inflicted “considerable human and material losses” on the enemy. The Azerbaijani side reported no casualties, however.
What is more, the Defense Ministry in Baku denied any skirmishes on the Karabakh frontline. “The report disseminated by the Armenian press is a provocation and disinformation,” it claimed in a statement cited by Regnum.
The incident was discussed by Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and his Karabakh Armenian counterpart, Karen Mirzoyan, at a meeting held in Yerevan. “The ministers described the Azerbaijani attacks as yet another manifestation of provocative and irresponsible policy and an attempt to obstruct negotiations between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers planned for this week,” read a statement released by Nalbandian’s press office.
Official Yerevan signaled no plans to cancel those talks. Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that Nalbandian has so far made no changes in his work schedule because of the latest ceasefire violations.
Nalbandian and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov were due to meet in Paris before the end of this month to try to build on progress that was reportedly made by the conflicting parties late last year.