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Armenian, Azerbaijani Leaders Trade Barbs Amid Border Fighting


A combo photo of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian (left) and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev

The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan have blamed each other for the latest major escalation along the two countries’ border in which over a dozen people have reportedly been killed or wounded.

In a telephone conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel on Tuesday Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian claimed that “the Azerbaijani authorities are deliberately escalating the situation with the aim of aborting the implementation of trilateral agreements.”

As quoted by his press office, Pashinian said that “the international community should not remain indifferent to Azerbaijan’s encroachments on the sovereign territory of Armenia.”

Meanwhile, during his reported telephone conversation with the top EU official Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev accused the Armenian side of committing recent provocations in Nagorno-Karabakh and launching an offensive against Azerbaijan today. “It is the military and political leadership of Armenia that is responsible for the situation,” Aliyev said, as quoted by Azerbaijani media.

Before the phone call, Michel said on Twitter that the situation in the region remained “challenging,” and that the “EU is committed to work with partners to overcome tensions for a prosperous and stable South Caucasus.”

Armenia and Azerbaijan waged a 44-day war over Nagorno-Karabakh last year. The hostilities in which nearly 7,000 people were killed were halted due to a Moscow-brokered ceasefire agreement that confirmed Azerbaijan’s territorial gains and brought about 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to the areas of the region remaining under the control of local ethnic Armenian forces.

Unblocking of regional transport routes, which is part of the November 9, 2020 agreement, appears to have been differently interpreted in Yerevan and Baku as Armenia has resisted providing Azerbaijan with an exterritorial corridor to its Nakhichevan exclave, while agreeing to general unblocking of all roads in the region.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Tuesday senior member of Armenia’s ruling Civil Contract party Eduard Aghajanian claimed that the current border escalation is a response by Azerbaijan to the failure of its policy to force Armenia to provide the corridor.

“The Republic of Armenia will remain sovereign and there will be no [exterritorial] corridor through its sovereign territory,” Aghajanian underscored. “The [sovereign] status of the Republic of Armenia that was formed in 1991 is not subject to negotiation.”

On Tuesday, Armenia appealed to Russia, its key military and political ally, for assistance in defending against Azerbaijan.

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