German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a “lasting ceasefire” in Nagorno-Karabakh after discussing the sharp escalation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict with Armenia’s visiting President Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday.
Merkel also offered Germany’s “constructive support” to international efforts to stop fighting on the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontlines and broker the conflict’s peaceful resolution. A Karabakh settlement is of “utmost importance,” the German DPA news agency quoted her as saying.
“Above all everything must be done so that more blood is not spilled and lives lost, and so the efforts to reach an acceptable and lasting ceasefire are extremely urgent,” Merkel told a joint news conference with Sarkisian, according to Reuters.
Saturday’s outbreak of the worst fighting around Karabakh since 1994 appears to have dominated Sarkisian’s separate talks in Berlin with Merkel and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
With Germany currently holding the rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Steinmeier has repeatedly expressed concern at the bloody hostilities in Karabakh in recent days. He discussed the matter with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a phone call on Tuesday.
“The situation right now is very volatile,” Steinmeier said after the meeting with Sarkisian, according to the TASS news agency. He warned that fierce clashes along the Karabakh “line of contact” could resume unless the conflicting parties agree to a “long-term renunciation of the use of force,” bolster the ceasefire regime and embark on negotiations, under the OSCE Minsk Group auspices, on Karabakh’s “future status.”
“We would like to see that happen in the near future,” said German minister.
A statement by the Armenian presidential press service said Sarkisian and Steinmeier voiced support for specific confidence-building measures advocated by the Minsk Group’s U.S., Russian and French co-chairs. Those include withdrawal of Armenian and Azerbaijani snipers from “the line of contact” and a mechanism for international investigations of truce violations there.
Azerbaijan rejects these proposed safeguards against bloodshed, saying that they would only cement the status quo in the unresolved conflict. It has also repeatedly accused the U.S., Russian and French mediators of pro-Armenian bias.
During his official visit to Berlin Sarkisian praised German support for the mediating troika’s peace efforts. He also blamed Baku for the unprecedented escalation that left the two sides on the brink of a full-scale war.
“Once again, Azerbaijan has turned the region into a hot spot threatening European security,” he charged at the news conference with Merkel.
“The people of Karabakh do not want war,” he went on. “They want a simple and clear thing for which all colonized peoples had always fought. They want to determine their destiny on their own and freely build their future.”