UN Security Council Calls On Armenia, Azerbaijan To Respect Cease-Fire

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The UN Security Council called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to respect a new cease-fire after consulting on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, where each side accused the other of breaking the truce.
BAKU/YEREVAN — The UN Security Council called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to respect a new cease-fire after closed consultations on October 19 on the situation in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The council’s 15 members also reiterated a plea by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for parties to respect the truce, and one diplomat quoted by AFP said all members agreed that the situation is bad and both sides need to pull back and heed calls for a cease-fire.

The truce, which was announced October 17, is the second attempt to establish a cease-fire since heavy fighting erupted in the region on September 27. It appeared to be in jeopardy early on October 19, with ethnic Armenian forces and Azerbaijan accusing each other of renewed shelling.

Moscow’s UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said during the Security Council’s meeting members discussed the need to ensure verification of the cease-fire.

The Russian envoy did not rule out that a verification process could be implemented by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

“Who will be there and in what capacity – who will be actually verifying it – that’s still a question being discussed,” Nebenzya told reporters after the council met, according to TASS.

Russia, which currently holds the UN Security Council’s rotating presidency, is working on a statement that would call for adherence to the cease-fire, AFP quoted unidentified diplomats as saying.

The text is expected to call on Armenia and Azerbaijan to resume negotiations facilitated by the Minsk Group and chaired by Russia, France, and the United States. The diplomatic initiative of the OSCE is aimed at trying to resolve the conflict, which dates to 1988 in the waning days of the Soviet Union.

A deal brokered by Russia earlier in the month failed to halt the worst fighting in the South Caucasus since the 1990s, which has killed hundreds of soldiers and civilians.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, in an interview with TASS, said was he ready to go to Armenia to meet with the Armenian side and said that representatives of Baku are ready to meet in Moscow or anywhere else.

“We are always ready to meet both in Moscow and in any other place in order to end the confrontation and find ways of settlement,” Aliyev said, at the same time stressing he had not received such an invitation.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said in a separate interview with TASS that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be resolved exclusively by peaceful means.

“I am ready to make all the necessary efforts to achieve such a result, including going, meeting, talking,” he said.

Internationally recognized as part of mainly Muslin Azerbaijan, the mountainous territory has been controlled by mainly Christian ethnic Armenians, backed by Yerevan, since the 1994 halt in fighting.

The latest violence has stoked fears that conflict could engulf the region in a wider conflict involving Azerbaijan’s closest ally, Turkey, and Russia, which dominates the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which Armenia is a member of.

There has been no confirmed death toll from the fighting, but both sides appear to have suffered casualties.

Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh said on October 18 that they had recorded another 40 casualties among its forces, pushing the military death toll to 673 since the fighting erupted.

Azerbaijan has not released any military casualty figures.

Baku and Yerevan last week each claimed gains in the fighting in and around the territory, which was populated by around 150,000 ethnic Armenians prior to this round of violence.

With reporting by AFP and TASS

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