Armenia calls on volunteers to fight on the Karabakh front line and vows there can be NO diplomatic solution to the crisis

Mail Online, UK
Oct 21 2020
  • Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has said there is no diplomatic solution
  • It comes as Russia hosted foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan for talks
  • Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh region erupted in fierce clashes in September
  • Yerevan says 772 Armenian soldiers and 36 civilians have been killed in flare-up 
  • Baku has reported 63 civilian casualties but has yet to disclose military losses

Armenia has called on volunteers to fight on the Karabakh front line as it vowed there was no diplomatic solution to the conflict.    

'Everything that is diplomatically acceptable to the Armenian side… is not acceptable to Azerbaijan anymore,' Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said earlier today. 

It comes after Russia hosted the foreign ministers of both Armenia and Azerbaijan for separate talks earlier this week as world powers seek to step up efforts to agree a lasting truce to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and his Armenian counterpart Zohrab Mnatsakanyan for separate talks on Tuesday and Wednesday, Lavrov's ministry said in a statement.

But the two ministers from the Caucasus rivals had no face-to-face encounter in the Russian capital.

Russia, along with the United States and other world powers, are seeking to step up efforts to persuade both sides to stop fighting that has left hundreds of people dead after two purported ceasefire accords never showed the slightest sign of holding.

The ministers visited Moscow ahead of meetings with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday. 

A trilateral meeting in Washington has also been ruled out and they will meet Pompeo separately.

In Russia, the chief diplomats discussed 'urgent matters related to the implementation of agreements to halt fire and creating conditions for a lasting settlement' of the Karabakh conflict, the statement said.

Azerbaijan's foreign ministry said only that its top diplomat had travelled to Moscow 'for consultations'.

Armenian foreign ministry spokeswoman Anna Nagdalyan said Mnatsakanyan met Lavrov on Wednesday.

A truce was agreed in Moscow earlier this month after 11 hours of talks, but the accord had next to no impact on the ground.

A second ceasefire agreed Saturday also fell apart almost immediately.

Yerevan says 772 Armenian soldiers and 36 civilians have been killed in the flare-up of fighting.

Baku has reported 63 civilian casualties but has yet to disclose military losses.

Azerbaijan and the Armenian separatists who control its Karabakh region have been locked in a bitter impasse over the fate of the mountainous province since a war in the 1990s that left 30,000 people dead.

Their long-simmering conflict erupted again on September 27 in fierce clashes that raised the alarm over the failure of decades-long international mediation.

Along with France and Russia, the United States co-chairs the so-called Minsk Group of international mediators to the Karabakh peace talks since the 1994 ceasefire.

Baku says its forces have captured ground within Karabakh and that it also now controls other Azerbaijani territory that had been held by Armenian forces.

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has said there can only be a ceasefire when Aremenia pulls out from Karabakh and all the surrounding regions of Azerbaijan held by Armenian forces.

However Armenia's Pashinyan has urged international recognition of Karabakh after claiming its inhabitants would not be safe under Azerbaijani rule.

WHAT AND WHERE IS NAGORNO-KARABAKH?

Karabakh is a region within Azerbaijan which has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces since a full-scale separatist war ended in 1994, after killing about 30,000 people and displacing an estimated one million.

Nagorno-Karabakh is about 1,700 square miles in size, but Armenian forces also occupy other nearby territory.  

HOW DID THE CONFLICT START?

Long-simmering tensions between Christian Armenians and mostly Muslim Azeris began boiling over as the Soviet Union frayed in its final years. Once the USSR collapsed in 1991 and the republics became independent nations, war broke out.

A 1994 cease-fire left Armenian and Azeri forces facing each other across a demilitarised zone, where clashes were frequently reported. 

WHAT'S HAPPENED SINCE?

International mediation efforts have brought little visible progress. The conflict has been an economic blow to the Caucasus region because it has hampered trade and prompted Turkey to close its border with Armenia.

Fighting periodically breaks out around Nagorno-Karabakh's borders, often deadly, notably in 2016 and this July. 

Since new fighting erupted on September 27, dozens have been killed and wounded in apparent shelling by both sides. Each country blamed the other. 

WHAT´S THE BROADER IMPACT?

In addition to causing local casualties and damage, the conflict in the small, hard-to-reach region is also of concern to major regional players.

Russia is Armenia´s main economic partner and has a military base there, while Turkey has offered support to Azeris, fellow Muslims and ethnic brethren to Turks. Iran neighbors both Armenia and Azerbaijan and is calling for calm.

Meanwhile, the United States, France and Russia are meant to be guarantors of the long-stalled peace process, under the auspices of the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.


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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS