Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides has spoken with his Armenian counterpart, calling on all sides involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh to resolve the conflict diplomatically as well as accusing Azerbaijan of violating a fragile truce.
Christodoulides called on all sides in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh to cease hostilities.
In a foreign ministry press release, the Cypriot government expressed “deep concern at the heightening of tensions that has been taking place since yesterday in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh,” while also condemning “the breach of the ceasefire by Azerbaijan, that has led to intense fighting and resulted in casualties also amongst the civilian population.”
Over a dozen military members and civilians were killed on Sunday in clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the heaviest since 2016, with foreign observers expressing concern about stability in the South Caucasus, a corridor for pipelines carrying oil and gas to world markets.
Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region that is inside Azerbaijan but is run by ethnic Armenians, says 16 of its servicemen had been killed and more than 100 wounded after Azerbaijan launched an air and artillery attack early on Sunday.
Azerbaijan said its forces responded to Armenian attacks, saying five members of one family had been killed by Armenian shelling.
Turkish media reported that journalists from that country found themselves under fire early Sunday morning when Armenian artillerymen targeted Azerbaijani settlements in the area.
The recent clashes between the two long-feuding former Soviet republics, which fought a war in the 1990’s, were the latest flare-up of a long-running conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, prompting a flurry of diplomacy to reduce the new tensions in a decades-old conflict between majority Christian Armenia and mainly Muslim Azerbaijan.
In a telephone conversation with his Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, according to the press release, Christodoulides conveyed the Republic of Cyprus government’s support towards efforts to “resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner on the basis of International Law, through negotiations in the framework of the Minsk Group.”
The Cypriot minister also “condemned all actions by parties involved, or any interventions by third parties, that run contrary to this direction,” the press release also said.
The Turkish foreign ministry also issued a statement over Sunday’s clashes, slamming Azerbaijan and calling on the international community to “stand by the righteous party.”
“We strongly condemn the Armenian attacks which constitute a clear violation of international law and caused civilian casualties. With these attacks, Armenia once again displayed that it is the biggest obstacle to peace and stability in the region,” Ankara said.
In July, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged Azerbaijan and Armenia to exercise maximum restraint after border clashes between the two republics. [Kathimerini Cyprus]