Azerbaijan, Armenia reject talks as Karabakh conflict widens

Elena Pavlovska - New Europe

Armenia and Azerbaijan accused one another on Tuesday of firing directly into each other’s territory and rejected urges to hold peace talks as their conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region continued.

Both countries were part of the Soviet Union and have been involved in a territorial conflict since gaining independence within the 1990s. The main issue is the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but controlled by ethnic Armenians.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Tuesday that the atmosphere was not right for talks with Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev has also rejected any possibility of talks with Armenia.

On Tuesday, Armenia’s foreign ministry said a civilian was killed in the Armenian town of Vardenis after it was shelled by Azeri artillery and targeted in a drone attack. Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said that from Vardenis the Armenian army had shelled the Dashkesan region inside Azerbaijan. Armenia denied those reports.

Armenia, which earlier accused Turkey of sending mercenaries to back Azerbaijani forces, said a Turkish fighter jet had shot down one of its warplanes over Armenian airspace, killing the pilot. Turkey has denied the claim.

On Tuesday, the United Nations’ Security Council expressed concern about the clashes, condemned the use of force and backed a call by UN chief Antonio Guterres for an immediate halt to fighting.

Nagorno-Karabakh has reported the loss of at least 84 soldiers. The current incident is the most serious spike in hostilities since 2016, the when the nations fought for 4 days in the region. The violence resulted in the deaths of over 90 troops on each side and over a dozen civilians.

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