Incidents on Armenia-Azerbaijan line of contact on eve of talks.
21 January 2014

(names of locations in this report are as cited by the sides)

As the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan prepare for a meeting in Paris later on this week in another attempt to break the deadlock in the ngotiations on the Nagorno-Karabaklh conflict the situation on the line of contact separating the forces of the two countries has become more tense.

On Monday the Armenia side reported that one of its soldiers, Junior Sergeant Armen Hovhannisyan was killed during incidents at around between 11:50pm on Sunday and 12:15am on Monday, in the northeastern (Jraberd) and the southeastern (Korgan) directions of the line of contact. The Armenian side said that this happened during a two pronged intrusion by Azerbaijani forces which had been repelled. The Azerbaijani side has denied that any incident has happened at all and has called it an Armenia provocation. On Tuesday morning however, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said that the  Armenian side had violated the cease fire ninety eight times in the previous twenty four hours. 

The Defense Ministry's press service told the Azerbaijani news agency APA that Armenian army units fired on the positions of Azerbaijani Armed Forces in Kemerli and Gaymagli villages of Gazakh region from their posts in Berkaber village of Armenia's Ijevan region, Gizilhajili village of Gazakh region, Dovekh, Berdavan and Barekamavan villages of Noyemberyan region yesterday and tonight. The Azerbaijani side also claimed that the Armenian side also fired on the positions of Azerbaijani Armed Forces from their posts near Horadiz, Garakhabeyli, Gorgan villages of Fuzuli region, Merzili, Yusifjanli, Jevahirli villages of Agdam region, Kuropatkino village of Khojavend region, Mehdili village of Jabrayil region, Chilabirt village of Terter region. The source also said that positions of Azerbaijani Armed Forces were also under fire from positions in the unamed hills in Khojavend and Fuzuli regions. 

The Azerbaijani side said that they returned fire and that the situation on the front line remained tense.

In the only response so far by the international community to the situation on the ground US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Process, Ambassador James Warlick tweeted "Violence and tensions along the Line of Contact undermine efforts to bring about a negotiated settlement. Regret today's death". On its part the Foreign Ministry of the self declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic said that "the subversive actions of the Azerbaijani side, especially on the eve of the forthcoming meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, prove the aggressive intentions of Azerbaijan and seriously undermine the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries aimed at peaceful settlement of the conflict". with agencies.

photo: An Azerbaijani conscript on guard on the line of contact separating Armenian and Azerbaijani forces. (Archive Photo courtesy of BBC)