YEREVAN: Officials in Armenia said Friday the country is ready to discuss a cease-fire in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, where heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces has continued for six straight days, killing dozens and leaving scores wounded.
This week’s fighting is the biggest escalation in years in the decades-long dispute over the region, which lies within Azerbaijan but is controlled by local ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia. It prompted calls for a cease-fire from all around the globe.
On Thursday, leaders of Russia, France and the United States – co-chairs of the so-called Minsk Group, which was set up by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1992 to resolve the conflict – issued a joint statement statement calling for “immediate cessation of hostilities” and “resuming substantive negotiations … under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.”
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that the country stands “ready to engage” with the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group “to reestablish a cease-fire regime based on the 1994-1995 agreements.”
“Armenia remains committed to the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the statement read.
The deadly clashes in the region resumed Friday, with Armenian military officials reporting Azerbaijan carrying out strikes on Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital Stepanakert, and Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry accusing Armenian forces of shelling the Agdam region.
The region’s officials said more than 150 servicemen on their side have been killed so far. Azerbaijani authorities haven’t provided details on its military casualties, but said 19 civilians have been killed and 55 more have been wounded.
Several journalists were wounded in shelling of the Matruni town on Thursday. Two of them were French citizens working with Le Monde newspaper.