Shooting and sharp words ahead of meeting. Incidents on the front line have created a difficult atmosphere ahead of Paris talks.
22 January 2014

Armenia and Azerbaijan continued to report serious violations of the cease fire on the line of contact separating their military forces over the last twenty four hours. Both sides have reported dozens of violations by the other side and the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry this morning reported an alleged Armenian incursion stating that an "Armenian subversive group attempted to cross the contact line in the south-western region (in the east of Khojavand region). The Azerbaijani Armed Forces prevented the enemy's action at the initial stage and they were forced to retreat because of losses." Armenia on Monday reported a two pronged Azerbaijani incursion which it now says was made up of thirty special forces personnel, but which it repelled after suffering the death of one of its soldiers. The funeral of the soldier is due to take place today, and the Armenian Defence Minister will personally attend, Armenian sources stated.

In the meantime the OSCE has announced that it will monitor the front line in the Fizuli region tomorrow. It is not clear if this monitoring was already scheduled or if it is being done in view of the current situation.

The tension on the line of contact has created a sombre background ahead of the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan which is due to take place in Paris on Saturday. Some Armenian sources are suggesting that the meeting may be cancelled, but this is unlikely. Speaking in a meeting with the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Philippe Lefort, in Yerevan yesterday, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan "expressed his deep concern in regard to the latest cases of constant provocations and the violations of the ceasefire regime by the Azerbaijani side on the Karabakh-Azerbaijan border, and underlined that they create serious obstacles for the further progress of the peace process."

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev in the meantime yesterday visited a complex for refugees and IDPS displaced by the conflict in the city of Ganja. Speaking in one of the new flats built for the refugees in the presence of a family displaced by the conflict, Aliev spoke of the occupation that has lasted for 20 years and described it as an injustice, causing pain, and suffering to people and poses a great obstacle to the development of the country: "But the history of 20 years is not such a long time. We should look ahead - what will happen in 20, 30, 50 years, as Azerbaijan will develop? I am sure that we will return to our historical lands in near future. Then historical justice will be restored completely. At the first stage should be released the occupied lands. Azerbaijanis will live in Nagorno-Karabakh, and then in other places. We should all try to bring that day closer".

source: with agencies.

photo: the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan (archive picture).