Cyprus calls for calm in Nagorno-Karabakh

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Cyprus has called on all sides in Nagorno-Karabakh to cease hostilities while condemning outside interference after trouble flared in the region that could escalate into a full-blown war.

In a telephone conversation with his Armenian counterpart Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides conveyed Cyprus’ support for efforts to resolve the dispute peacefully based on international law.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said it was “deeply concerned” at the heightening of tensions taking place in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh and “condemns the breach of the ceasefire by Azerbaijan, that has led to intense fighting and resulted in casualties also amongst the civilian population”.

“We urge all parties to show self-restraint and cease hostilities so that de-escalation can occur as soon as possible,” it said.

In light of developments, Christodoulides held a telephone conversation with Armenia’s Foreign Minister during which he was briefed on the unfolding situation.

Christodoulides conveyed Nicosia’s support to resolve the dispute peacefully through negotiations in the framework of the Minsk Group.

He “condemned all actions by parties involved, or any interventions by third parties, which run contrary to this direction”.

Skirmishes between Armenian and Azerbaijan forces over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh continued Monday, as international calls for calm after the heaviest fighting between the two sides in recent years grew.

Clashes between the two former Soviet republics, which fought a war in the 1990s, were the latest flare-up of a long-running conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region that is inside Azerbaijan but is run by ethnic Armenians.

Defence ministry officials in Nagorno-Karabakh said on Monday 15 more servicemen had died overnight, bringing their total military fatality count to 32 since clashes erupted on Sunday morning.

Both sides, meanwhile, reported civilian casualties.

The clashes prompted a flurry of diplomacy to reduce tension in a decades-old conflict amid fears the violence could spiral out of control.

President Donald Trump said on Sunday the United States would seek to end the violence.

“We’re looking at it very strongly,” he told a news briefing. “We have a lot of good relationships in that area. We’ll see if we can stop it.”

The US State Department condemned the violence in a statement, calling for an immediate halt to hostilities and any rhetoric or other actions that could make the situation worse.

Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 after fighting that left 30,000 dead and forced many more from their homes.

Although a ceasefire was reached in 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia frequently accuse each other of attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the separate Azerbaijan-Armenia frontier.

Turkey, an Azerbaijan ally, said it was talking to members of the so-called Minsk Group, which mediates between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Russia, France, and the US are co-presidents. (source agencies)