NKR Ceasefire Seems to Be Largely Holding


NKR FlagYEREVAN (Combined Sources) — Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian received this week Ambassador Herbert Salber, the European Union’s Special representative for the South Caucasus and the Conflict in Georgia.

Nalbandian briefed Salber on the harm Azerbaijani aggression against Karabagh has caused to the negotiation process and presented the efforts targeted at the elimination of its consequences.

The EU Special Representative noted that there is no military solution to the Karabagh conflict and added that “the European Union supports the efforts of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group targeted at exclusively peaceful settlement of the issue.

The EU Special Representative mentioned that the issue has no military solution and the European Union supports the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs for exclusively peaceful settlement of the issue.

Nalbandian stressed that currently any possible meetings could be aimed at the elimination of the repetition of Azerbaijan’s aggression against Nagorno-Karabagh of early April, and sought the unconditional implementation of the trilateral ceasefire and ceasefire consolidation agreements of 1994-1995, which have no time limitations and the creation of a mechanism for investigation of ceasefire violations. According to Nalbandian, those steps would create appropriate conditions for the continuation of the negotiation process.

Despite sporadic gunfire the shaky truce reached in Nagorno-Karabagh after intense fighting early last month largely held through the long weekend that included May 8-9 celebrations of the past war victories in Armenia as well as in Azerbaijan.

Earlier, a number of leading analysts and pundits did not exclude that Azerbaijan, which had been amassing its troops at the line of contact in Karabagh and at the borders with Armenia, would attempt to launch a new offensive during the period of festivities.

Scores of soldiers were killed and wounded on both sides in the worst fighting in Karabagh since the 1994 truce on April 2-5. Loss of life continued around the Armenian-controlled region in sporadic skirmishes even after a verbal agreement on cessation of hostilities reached between the parties to the conflict.

Military authorities in Stepanakert and Yerevan again accused Azerbaijan of a series of violations of the ceasefire regime near Karabagh and at the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border on May 7-9 with the use of firearms of different calibers, as well as grenade-launchers and mortars, but did not report any casualties. They said Armenian troops keep the situation at the frontlines under their control.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said one of its soldiers was killed in a skirmish with Armenian troops on May 8. It also said that an officer of the Azerbaijani forces wounded in clashes with Armenians in early April succumbed to his wounds in a Baku military hospital over the weekend.

Speaking to media on May 9, Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan described the situation at the borders as “relatively calm.” He said Azerbaijani forces get adequate response to their violations of the ceasefire.

As Armenia marked May 9, the 71st anniversary of allied victory in World War II in Europe and the 24th anniversary of the liberation of Shushi during the first Nagorno-Karabagh war (1992-1994), there was no shortage of statements from officials related to the recent escalation of fighting in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict zone.

On that day, Yerevan and Stepanakert did not hold festivities and parades, given the fact that nearly a hundred families are now still in mourning for those killed in the April 2-5 clashes in Karabagh.

Armenian leaders and senior public and political figures visited Victory Park and the Yerablur military cemetery in Yerevan and the Common Graves in Stepanakert and Shushi in Karabagh.

Formre Karabagh President Arkady Ghukasyan stated in Stepanakert: “There can be no concessions, especially unilateral ones. Our concessions depend on the behavior and concessions on the part of Azerbaijan.”

As for the prospects for resuming negotiations, Ghukasyan, who is Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s ambassador-at-large today, said: “Of course, negotiations are always needed. And Karabakh should definitely act as a party in such negotiations.”

this conflict, these efforts will continue. Naturally, there will be meetings, talks on this matter. I think it will take place sometime in the near future.”

Certain amassment of military hardware by Azerbaijan has also been observed in recent days at the Nakhijevan section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, Koryun Nahapetyan, head of the parliamentary committee on defense, national security and internal affairs, told media at the National Assembly on Friday.

The official reportedly gave assurances that the Armenian armed forces fully control the situation.

(Stories from ArmeniaNow and Public Radio of Armenia were used to compile this report.)