Defense ministry condemns frequent Armenian ceasefire breaches
By Sara Rajabova, Azernews
The situation on the contact line of Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces remains tense due to frequent ceasefire violations by the Armenian troops.
"Armenian armed units regularly breach the ceasefire by firing upon Azerbaijani positions and as a result, the Azerbaijani armed forces have to respond to them," Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesman Eldar Sabiroglu told Azernews.
The Armenian forces almost every day open fire at the Azerbaijani positions in different areas of the frontline -- mostly in Gazakh, Aghdam, Fizuli, Goranboy and Terter regions.
"It is wartime, under such circumstances any event can occur, and as a result of armistice breaches both sides lose soldiers," Sabiroglu said.
A precarious cease-fire, reached after a lengthy war that displaced over a million Azerbaijanis, has been in place between the two South Caucasus countries since 1994. Since the hostilities, Armenian armed forces have occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
Recently, a lieutenant of the Azerbaijani army was killed and one soldier wounded as a result of a ceasefire violation by the Armenian armed forces.
OSCE representatives every month hold monitoring on the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontline and every time they state that the monitoring revealed no incidents.
The Armenians tend to follow the ceasefire agreement when OSCE representatives are holding monitoring on the troops' contact line.
"They immediately breach the ceasefire after the monitoring and shamelessly blame Azerbaijan for this. They state at international organizations that Azerbaijan violates the ceasefire in an attempt to take advantage of this situation," Sabiroglu said.
He said Defense Minister Safar Abiyev always reiterates the just position of Azerbaijan during meetings with representatives of other countries, stressing the occupation policy of Armenia and tension in the region caused by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
International efforts to facilitate a solution to the long-standing conflict have been fruitless so far.
Peace talks are brokered by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs representing the United States, Russia and France. The negotiations are underway on the basis of a peace outline proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs and dubbed the Madrid Principles, also known as Basic Principles. The document envisions a return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control; determining the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh; a corridor linking Armenia to the region; and the right of all internally displaced persons to return home.