A meeting between Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov scheduled for Thursday in Geneva has been cancelled. Moscow on Thursday voiced “deep concern” about mercenaries in the Karabakh conflict zone.
The meeting was announced Sunday, when the OSCE Minks Group co-chairs issued a statement calling for adhering to the ceasefire agreement and pledging to continue to mediate a settlement of the Karabakh conflict.
Russian media are speculating that the meeting has been postponed until Friday.
Saying another internationally-mediated ceasefire agreement has failed, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova expressed Moscow’s concern about the ongoing military escalation in Artsakh, specifically the presence of mercenaries in battle.
“We are deeply concerned about continued hostilities and the ongoing massive deployment of foreign mercenaries from the Middle East to the military zone. There can be no alternative to a peaceful settlement of the conflict,” Zakharova said.
“Unfortunately, the situation in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict zone remains complex. The military situation continues. We continue our efforts for de-escalation of the situation and resumption of the negotiation process both at the national level and within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship,” added Zakharova.
Defense officials in Armenia and Artsakh warned Wednesday that Azerbaijani forces were surrendering control of their positions to Ankara-backed terrorists in key areas on the frontlines, creating makeshift bases from where the mercenaries can attack Artsakh targets.
In an interview with Russian RIA news agency, Mnatsakanyan, once again, sounded the alarm on Turkey’s blatant intervention in the conflict. Turkey has been supporting Azerbaijan with military assistance and the deployment of Ankara-backed terrorists to fight alongside Azerbaijani forces.
“Turkey sees this conflict as an opportunity to increase its influence in the neighboring South Caucasus region,” Mnatsakanyan told RIA. “[Ankara’s] policy of inciting conflict and inflicting great human suffering on the population of the region in order to spread its influence should be resisted and discouraged,’’ Mnatsakanyan said.
Mnatsakanyan added that no country—including Turkey itself—can say that Turkey acted as an impartial actor in Nagorno Karabakh conflict, pointing out that Turkey slammed the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries—the U.S., Russia and France—after they called for an immediate ceasefire on October 1.
Mnatsakanyan spoke to EU’s Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell on Wednesday, raising the alarm about Azerbaijan’s deliberate targeting of the civilian population in Artsakh. He briefed the European leader about the ongoing attacks on Stepanakert, where, he said, the maternity hospital was deliberately targeted by Azerbaijan.
Armenia’s top diplomat warned that Turkey’s continued destabilizing involvement poses a threat to not only regional, but global security.
Mnatsakanyan told Borrell that Armenia is committed to a peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict through the mediation efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan took to Twitter to highlight the true goals of the Turkey-backed Azerbaijani forces to the international community, emphasizing that Baku intends to ethnically cleanse Armenian in Artsakh.
Turkish led Azerbaijani forces along with terrorists continue intensive military operations in different directions of the front line, including peaceful settlements across #Artsakh. Their aim is the ethnic cleansing of #Armenians in Artsakh. #RecognizeArtsakh
— Nikol Pashinyan (@NikolPashinyan) October 29, 2020
“Turkish led Azerbaijani forces along with terrorists continue intensive military operations in different directions of the front line, including peaceful areas across Artsakh. Their aim is the ethnic cleansing of Armenians in Artsakh,” Pashinyan said, urging the international community to recognize Artsakh.