Azerbaijan ready for ceasefire if Armenia withdraws from occupied territories
Baku, Azerbaijan, Apr. 4
Azerbaijan is ready for a ceasefire, but the Armenian armed forces must withdraw from all the occupied territories of Azerbaijan in line with the UN Security Council resolutions, Azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesman Hikmat Hajiyev told Trend.
Hajiyev made the remarks following the statement by Armenia's President Serzh Sargsyan, who said Armenia is ready for compromises in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Hajiyev went on to add that Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and sovereignty should be ensured within the internationally recognized borders. He also stressed that the country decided to unilaterally suspend the counterattack and response measures on April 3.
However, the Armenian armed forces continue intensely shelling of settlements and civilians along the contact line of the troops, he said.
"Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated that the main cause of the ceasefire violations and the escalation of the situation is the presence of the Armenian armed forces in the occupied Azerbaijani territories," Hajiyev said.
On the night of Apr. 2, all the frontier positions of Azerbaijan were subjected to heavy fire from Armenians, who were using large-caliber weapons, mortars, grenade launchers and guns. Azerbaijani settlements near the frontline densely populated by civilians were shelled as well.
A counter-attack was carried out following the provocations of the Armenian armed forces on the night of Apr. 2.
Six Armenian tanks, 15 gun mounts and reinforced engineering structures were destroyed and more than 100 servicemen of the Armenian armed forces were wounded and killed during the shootouts.
Twelve servicemen of the Azerbaijani armed forces heroically died, one Mi-24 helicopter was shot down and one tank was damaged on a mine.
Three more soldiers of Azerbaijan were killed during the past day and night as a result of the ceasefire violation.
On Apr. 4, Azerbaijani armed forces destroyed three tanks and eliminated around 30 servicemen of the Armenian armed forces.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the US are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the UN Security Council's four resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.