YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The international community holds Azerbaijan primarily responsible for the latest upsurge in ceasefire violations around Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian claimed on Friday.
The U.S., Russian and French mediators acting under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European Union deplored last week’s deadly fighting in northeastern Karabakh.
Yet neither the mediators, nor the EU explicitly blamed Azerbaijan for provoking the most serious armed incident on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Line of Contact reported in over two years. They urged both sides to exercise restraint and seek a peaceful solution to the Karabakh dispute.
Nalbandian insisted, however, that these statements are “primarily addressed to Azerbaijan.” “In contacts with us, those making such statements, especially after the latest incident, are telling us, ‘You can clearly see to whom our statements are addressed,’” he told a joint news conference with Austria’s visiting Foreign Minister Michael Spindeleger
“Because clearly it’s not Armenia that makes bellicose statements, calls for war,” said Nalbandian. “It’s not Armenia that organized that provocation on the border and inside the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s territory. It’s not Armenia that rejected a proposal to reinforce the ceasefire regime which was made by the OSCE Minsk Group.”
Nalbandian stressed at the same time that Yerevan expects a more “clear-cut stance” from the international community on the Karabakh clash as well as Azerbaijan’s regular threats to resolve the conflict by force. Both he and President Serzh Sarkisian demanded an explicit international condemnation of Baku in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev again warned on Thursday that his troops will try to take control of the Karabakh Republic and the liberated Armenian territories surrounding it if the long-running peace talks with the Armenians do not yield an agreement acceptable to Baku. “The entire people of Azerbaijan will be mobilized,” he said in a speech reported by Azerbaijani news agencies the next day. “All armed units will be mobilized. A coordination work must be conducted within the Armed Forces for that purpose.”
Aliyev reportedly spoke before Azerbaijani soldiers at the at the end of what the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said were large-scale military exercises held in an undisclosed location on June 21-24.
Aliyev described the war games, which were reported by the ministry on Thursday evening, as “very successful.” “The main purpose of these exercises is to enable us to liberate our lands from the occupiers with our joint efforts,” he said.