Conflicts & War

Azerbaijan, Armenia agree Nagorno-Karabakh humanitarian ceasefire

Moscow, Oct 10 (efe-epa).- Azerbaijan and Armenia declared a humanitarian ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh starting at noon Saturday, after two weeks of intense fighting in the separatist enclave that have caused dozens of civilian and military victims.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explained in a brief media appearance after 10 hours of negotiations in Moscow with his counterparts from Azerbaijan and Armenia, Jeihun Bayramov and Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, that the specific parameters of the ceasefire still must be agreed.

“A ceasefire is declared as of 12.00 noon on Oct.10 (08.00 GMT) for humanitarian reasons for the exchange of prisoners of war and other detained persons, and of the bodies of the dead, under the mediation and criteria of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),” Lavrov said.

The two parties, which resumed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh on Sep. 27, also agreed to initiate substantial negotiations to reach “an agreement on the peaceful settlement of the conflict, the minister stressed.

This process will be accompanied by the co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) -USA, Russia and France-, after Armenia and Azerbaijan ratified the format of international mediation, which means no more countries will join the party of mediators.

The agreement was made possible after Russian President Vladimir Putin took the reins in his hands on Friday and convinced Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashiián of the need to send their respective foreign ministers to Moscow.

The Russian president’s commission to the mediator in this negotiation, Sergey Lavrov, was clear: that he forge a cessation of hostilities “for humanitarian reasons” between opposing parties to stop a war Putin has described as a “great tragedy.”

Aliyev and Pashinyan accepted Putin’s initiative and a few hours after a key phone call at the highest level, Bayramov and Mnatsakanyan landed in Moscow to meet Lavrov.

The trialogue talks began at 13.30 GMT without any hint emerging in the 10 hours of negotiations about the real possibilities of a ceasefire in the Karabakh.

The meeting raised hopes in the region, especially after both sides said just 24 hours ago that it was not the time for a face-to-face encounter between foreign ministers.

Bayrámov traveled to Geneva on Thursday to meet with the Minsk Group, but Yerevan preferred not to join the meeting.

Throughout the day, both positive and negative messages came from the two capitals, making it impossible to predict the outcome of the ministerial meeting.

Pashinián affirmed hours before the meeting that his country was prepared to resume the peace process.

“We are faithful to the principle of the peaceful settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and we are prepared to resume the peace process,” he said.

Aliyev, however, tempered things immediately after the start of the meeting in Moscow.

“For 30 years there were negotiations (…) and they did not give us an inch of the occupied territories. They could not force the aggressor to leave our land and comply with the UN resolutions. Now the conflict is decided by military means and then it will be done through political channels,” he said.

Aliyev has conditioned the end of the war on a timetable for Armenia’s withdrawal from Nagorno Karabakh.

And he reiterated this Friday: “We give (Armenia) the opportunity to leave our territories peacefully. Be that as it may, we will recover those territories and we will restore our territorial integrity,” he said.

This war in the Karabakh is already the most serious since the one that broke out before the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The people of Nagorno Karabakh “are on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe,” Pashinian said Friday.

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