Azeri Forces Again Violate Ceasefire in Karabakh

Arms left behind at the cease-fire line

YEREVAN, STEPANAKERT (Combined Sources)–The fighting that began on March 4 between Azerbaijani army troops and Karabakh Armenian forces resumed on Thursday as Azeri forces again violated the ceasefire regime and fired upon Karabakh Defense forces near Hadrut.
The attack by Azeri forces is the second major violation of the 1994 ceasefire agreement in less than a week.
According to the Armenian Ministry of Defense, the Azeri forces fired on the Karabakh Defense Army division with mortars, sniper rifles, and automatic rifles. The Karabakh Army did not return fire, the Ministry said.
Meanwhile, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Friday that there has been a steady troop buildup near the Levonarkh village, where the Azerbaijani forces violated the ceasefire Tuesday.
The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on Azerbaijan to refrain from violating the truce.
"Once again we call on the Azerbaijani leadership to refrain from violating the cease-fire regime and warn that any assault of the armed units of Azerbaijan will receive an equivalent response from the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army," the Ministry said. "We do not consider ourselves responsible for the aggravation of tensions at the contact line because of the non-constructive actions of official Baku, which, unfortunately, did not receive a proper evaluation by mediators."
Armenian Defense Minister Mikael Harutyunyan met Friday with military attach?s of foreign embassies in Armenia to discuss the latest post-election political developmen’s and Azerbaijan’s breach of the ceasefire line between Armenian troops of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azeri forces.
Seyran Shahsuvarian, a spokesman for the defense ministry, thanked the attach?s for accepting the invitation to meet. He provided them with a detailed explanation of the events that have transpired since the February 19 elections.
Minister Harutyunyan said the Armenian army was taking appropriate measures to stave off all negative developmen’s. Domestic stability in Armenia is vital for the maintenance of regional security and stability, he added.
During the meeting the minister also answered a range of questions from the military attach?s, who expressed hope that Armenia will overcome the crisis soon.
Armenian President Robert Kocharian met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Mathew Bryza Friday to discuss the recent ceasefire violations in Nagorno-Karabakh and the current political situation in Armenia, Armenian Presidential Spokesman Victor Soghomonian told reporters at a press conference Friday.
According to Soghomonian, President Kocharian told Bryza, who is the US OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, that the Armenia’side expects that all provocations on the border will stop and the ceasefire regime will be respected.
He said all Minsk Group Co-Chairs agreed that a meeting should be arranged between the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents on the sidelines of the next international gathering that are scheduled to attend.
Soghomonian declined to say when such a meeting would be arranged, but noted that it will be scheduled at the first opportunity.
He added that such meetings are preceded by visits to the region by the three co-chairs.
Soghomonian also noted that outgoing President Kocharian, whose term in office ends on April 9, is not likely to meet with Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev.
NATO expressed its concern Friday over the recent violations of the ceasefire line between the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Forces and Azeri forces.
Special NATO Representative for the South Caucasus and Central Asia Robert Simmons told reporters at Baku international airport that NATO hopes the incident will not have a negative impact on the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group to reach a settlement of the dispute.
He said NATO hopes that both sides will continue peaceful talks.
Simmons is in Baku to participate in a NATO-sponsored Rose Roth seminar. He is scheduled to meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, as well as Azerbaijani the Azerbaijani Foreign and Defense Ministers.

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