World Bulletin, Turkey
Aug 3 2014


Armenia, Azerbaijan trade accusations over border clashes

The Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) issued a
statement warning against further escalation.

World Bulletin/News Desk

Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other on Sunday of escalating
tensions near the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, leading to
violent clashes and at least 15 soldiers killed.

The clashes in recent days highlighted the risk of broader conflict
around Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave of Azerbaijan occupied
by Armenia, and the wider South Caucasus area where vital oil and
natural gas flow from the Caspian region to Europe.

The Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) issued a
statement on Saturday warning against further escalation.

An Azeri foreign ministry statement accused Armenia of provoking "a
substantial escalation along the frontline" and causing casualties.
"The whole responsibility is on official Yerevan, which gives orders
to such a provocative steps," it said.

For its part, Armenia accused Azerbaijan of raising tensions and then
blaming it. Both are former Soviet republics.

"Rejecting the proposals of the international community on the
establishment of a mechanism of investigation of incidents, Azerbaijan
is assuming the whole responsibility for the ceasefire violations,"
Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in a statement.

Energy-producing Azerbaijan, host to oil majors including BP , Chevron
and ExxonMobil, frequently threatens to take Nagorno-Karabakh back by
force and is spending heavily on its armed forces.

Fighting between ethnic Azeris and Armenians first erupted in 1991 and
a ceasefire was called in 1994. But Azerbaijan and Armenia have
regularly traded accusations of further violence around
Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Azeri-Armenian border.

Nagorno-Karabakh runs its own affairs with heavy military and
financial backing from Armenia since the war that killed about 30,000
people two decades ago. Armenian-backed forces also seized seven Azeri
districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh.

Efforts to reach a permanent settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict have failed despite mediation led by France, Russia and the
United States.

The OSCE has expressed concern about the intense upsurge in violence
along the frontline that has resulted in casualties among Azeri
soldiers and ethnic Armenian separatists.

OSCE officials have also said they were deeply concerned about
shooting at a clearly marked International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC) vehicle while it was assisting the local population on the
Armenian-Azeri border.

They strongly condemned the deliberate targeting of civilians and
shooting at representatives of international organisations.

"Retaliation and further violence will only make it more difficult to
continue efforts to bring about a lasting peace," the OSCE head and
the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk group said in a statement on Saturday.

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