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Armenia, Azerbaijan Urged To De-Escalate Tensions


Switzerland -- Foreign Ministers Zohrab Mnatsakanian of Armenia and Elmar Mammadyarov of Azerbaijan and international mediators meet in Geneva, January 30, 2020.

International mediators on Monday urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to avoid further ceasefire violations and resume peace talks “as soon as possible” following deadly skirmishes on the border between the two warring nations.

In a joint statement, the U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group condemned the “serious breach of the ceasefire” but did not explicitly put the blame on Yerevan or Baku.

They said they and the head of an OSCE mission monitoring the ceasefire regime in the Karabakh conflict zone have been “in direct contact with Armenian and Azerbaijani officials” since the outbreak of fierce fighting at a western section of the border on Sunday.

“The Minsk Group Co‑Chairs condemn the recent ceasefire violations and call upon the sides to take all necessary measures to prevent any further escalation, including by use of the existing direct communication channels between them,” read the statement.

“The Minsk Group Co-Chairs also call on the sides to resume substantive negotiations as soon as possible and emphasize the importance of returning OSCE monitors to the region as soon as circumstances allow,” it said.

The European Union’s foreign policy spokesman, Peter Stano, issued a similar statement on the escalation.

“The EU calls on the sides to strictly respect the ceasefire, devote energy and resources to fighting the coronavirus pandemic, meaningfully re-engage in substantive negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and prepare their populations for peace,” he said.

The co-chairs already urged the conflicting parties to strengthen the ceasefire regime during a June 30 video conference with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers. They insisted that “there is no military solution to the conflict.”

The mediators also said after those talks that the ministers agreed to hold another video conference in July and meet in person “as soon as possible.”

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