France, Russia, U.S. lead Nagorno-Karabakh talks as thousands flee clashes

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France, the United States and Russia will lead talks with Azerbaijan and Armenia aimed at ending fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh that has forced tens of thousands to flee the disputed region.

Azeri officials will attend the meetings in Geneva on Thursday, held by the co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Minsk Group, which have mediated for nearly three decades in the dispute.

Armenian officials said they would meet officials in Moscow on Monday but would not travel to Geneva, Russia’s TASS news agency said.

The warring sides have ignored ceasefire calls by the Minsk Group and the wider international community. As many as 75,000 people have been forced to flee the clashes, an official said, according to Agence France Presse.

“According to our preliminary estimates, some 50 percent of Karabakh’s population and 90 percent of women and children — some 70,000 to 75,000 people — have been displaced,” Karabakh rights ombudsman Artak Beglaryan told AFP.

Fears are growing that the conflict in the majority Armenian enclave, located within Azerbaijan’s borders, will develop into a wider war. On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned of the dangers of a regional conflict as concerns mounted that Turkey and Russia could be sucked in.

Two F-16 fighter jets believed to be from the Turkish Air Force have been spotted at Azerbaijan’s Ganja International Airport, indicating Turkish involvement in the clashes, New York Times journalist Christiaan Triebert said.

(All times local Turkish time, GMT+3)

10:15 – Azeri envoy says U.S., other powers must restrain aggressor Armenia

Azeri Ambassador to the United States, Elin Suleymanov, said Washington should maintain its role as an honest broker and an objective mediator in order to implement a peace plan.

“So far, the United States has been assertive and vocal in calling for cease-fire and protection of civilians; now it should actively push for peace by convincing Armenia to end hostilities within Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders and begin withdrawing,” Suleymanov said in an interview with Washington Times.

09:45 – Armenia urges international community to recognise Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called on the international community to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh as clashes continue to escalate between ethnic Armenian and Azeri forces.

“I think the international community in this situation should decisively act now and recognise the independence of Karabakh,” Pashinyan said during an interview with Euronews.

09:15 – Stepanakert shelled at night, Azeri attack was repelled in morning, Armenian authorities say

The armed forces of Azerbaijan continued to shell Stepanakert, the capital of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, also known as Artsakh, Armenian defence authorities said.

“Today, at 8:30, the #Azerbaijani Armed Forces attempted to launch an attack on #Artsakh from the Southern direction but losing 3 units of mil. equipment, leaving more than 20 dead & wounded, fled from the outskirts of Jebrail w/a battalion,” the defence ministry of Nagorno-Karabakh said.

23:30 – Russian FM Lavrov to host Armenian counterpart in Moscow 

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan will go to Moscow to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, said the press secretary of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Anna Naghdalyan.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian already announced that the negotiations on the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh will be held on October 8 and 12 in Geneva and Moscow.

22:35 – Turkey’s use of foreign fighters in Karabakh a deep concern – Italian MP

Reports on Turkey’s use of foreign fighters in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a source of deep concern, said Alvise Maniero, Head of the Italian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

“Some member states reported that they had reliable information about the transfer of hundreds of Syrian and Turkmen militiamen from Northern Syria to support Azerbaijan’s war operations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,’’ Maniero told the Public Radio of Armenia.

“We cannot allow this pattern to be repeated in Nagorno-Karabakh,” he added.

Turkey has denied sending mercenaries to take part in the fighting.

17:00 – French, Greek lawmakers urge EP condemnation for Turkey, Azerbaijan

Members of the European Parliament (EP), Loucas Fourlas from Greece and Sylvie Guillaume from France, have called on the European body to condemn Azerbaijan’s and Turkey’s actions in Nagorno-Karabakh in Wednesday’s special session dedicated to the ongoing conflict, Armen Press reported.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev have escalated the situation, Fourlas said in the session.“

We should stand by the people of Armenia,” Fourlas said. “Time has come, and we should stand by the Armenian people condemning Turkey.”

Guillaume called for a condemnation of “the atrocities,” adding that the EP should “focus on Turkey,’’ which he accused provoking the conflict.

Ahval

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