USA Regrets Military Operations in Nagorno-Karabakh
Azerbaijan, Baku, 6 March / Trend corr A. Gasimova/ The United States regrets the military operations at the dividing line in Nagorno-Karabakh, the US State Department official Tom Casey told at a briefing in Washington on 5 March.
"We've expressed to both sides, both directly from Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Matt Bryza with folks in Baku as well as through a phone call he's had with the Armenian Foreign Minister our concern about this," Casey said.
From the early hours of 4 March, the Armenian armed forces violated, in several directions, the peace agreement on the frontline of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the occupied territory of Azerbaijan
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said that during the gunfire with Armenia, 12 Armenian soldiers were killed and 15 injured and four Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and one sustained injuries. The situation on the frontline is relatively calm at the moment.
According to Casey, it is important that there be no further violations and this further points out the need for the two parties to work together with the Minsk Group to be able to come up with a diplomatic resolution to the situation.
Regarding the destabilization of the situation in Armenia after the presidential elections, Casey said that Bryza will travel on to Armenia from Baku where he will be holding meetings tomorrow. The primary focus of the visit is first and foremost to see what he can do to help encourage and facilitate a dialogue between the government and the opposition, in light of the violence which was experienced during the post-electoral period.
"One of his core messages will be to tell the Armenian Government that now that the situation has calmed down, it's very important to us to see the state of emergency lifted there. We also are concerned about the limitations and restrictions that have been placed on the media, including Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe there and we'd like to see those lifted. It's important for not only us but for -- more importantly the people of Armenia to be able, in this period, to have access to open information," he said.
In the morning of 2 March, President Robert Kocheryan decreed on proclaiming emergency situation in Armenia for 20 days. That was caused by the continuous demonstrations by the supporters of the presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who accuses the authorities of gerrymandering during the elections. The dispersal of the demonstration by the police resulted in confrontation. According to the Armenian Health Ministry, the number of the victims of the riots which took place in Yerevan on 1 March has totalled 131, and 8 of them died from gunshot wounds.
Since 20 February, Yerevan has been facing demonstrations, rally-marches, as well as sitting student protests organized by the opposition. The organizers and participants protest against the results of the elections. After violent suppression of the demonstration, many oppositionists were arrested, and their fate is still unknown. After the emergency situation was announced in the country, mass media was put under censorship control.
On 19 February, Armenia held presidential elections. According to the final results of the Armenian Central Election Commission, Serzh Sargsyan, the head of the Republican Party, won the elections with 52.82% of votes (862,369). The ex-President Levon Ter-Petrosyan took the second place (21.5%).
The conflict between the two countries of the South Caucasus began in 1988 due to Armenian territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Since 1992, Armenian Armed Forces have occupied 20% of Azerbaijan including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven surrounding districts. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement at which time the active hostilities ended. The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group ( Russia, France, and the US) are currently holding peaceful negotiations.