President Serzh Sarkisian discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon late on Tuesday after threatening “legal and military-political steps” in response to the latest upsurge in fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces.
Sarkisian also met in New York with the U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group. His press office said they talked about recent days’ deadly fighting along “the line of contact” around Karabakh and Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan. It did not elaborate.
James Warlick, the group’s U.S. co-chair, described the meeting with Sarkisian as “good.”But he too gave no details on his Twitter page.
In a separate statement issued later in the day, the Armenian presidential press office said Sarkisian briefed Ban on the fresh escalation of tensions in the conflict zone. “The UN secretary-general expressed concern at the tense situation, stressing the importance of the problem’s resolution mediated by the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group,” it said.
Sarkisian met Ban after lashing out at Azerbaijan in a speech delivered at the ongoing session of the UN General Assembly. He charged that the “dictatorial regime” in Baku is keen to distract the domestic public from oil-rich Azerbaijan’s growing socioeconomic challenges by undermining the ceasefire regime in the conflict zone. He stood by Armenian allegations that the Azerbaijani army used heavy artillery near Karabakh last week for the first time since the Armenian-Azerbaijani war for the disputed territory was stopped in 1994.
“It is already evident to us that Azerbaijan’s leadership has irreversibly lost not only a sense of reality but also all human norms,” said Sarkisian.
The Armenian leader went on to warn: “In case of a continuation of Azerbaijan’s aggressive policy Armenia will have no choice but to take legal and military-political steps to ensure the security and peaceful development of the Republic of Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.” He did not specify what those steps would be.
The Armenian military said last Friday that its frontline troops have been ordered to use heavier artillery in response to what it called intensifying ceasefire violations by the Azerbaijani side. First Deputy Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan said on Tuesday that Baku will eventually be forced to sign another ceasefire agreement “on new terms.” He did not elaborate.
The Azerbaijani government blames the Armenians for the latest escalation that has left at least eight soldiers from both sides dead. Meeting with a visiting European Union envoy on Wednesday, President Ilham Aliyev accused them of “provoking Azerbaijan.” Aliyev also repeated his claims that Armenia is stalling for time in order to cement the Karabakh status quo.
The Minsk Group co-chairs said over the weekend that a fresh face-to-face meeting between Aliyev and Sarkisian should go ahead as planned later this year.