New Karabakh shootings prove war risk

During the night from 18 to 19 June, a shooting incident took place on the contact line in the Mardakert region. The incident resulted in casualties – 4 Armenian soldiers and 1 Azerbaijani were killed and 4 more Armenian soldiers are reported to be injured.
After meetings with security experts, NGO representatives and officials in Nagorno-Karabakh (N-K), EuFoA Secretary General Michael Kambeck concluded: “this was a dangerous and risky manoeuvre, apparently initiated by Azerbaijan. It looks like President Aliev was unhappy about the peace talks in St. Petersburg on June 17 and ordered his troops to take a small village and send the painful signal that he is serious about his repeated war threats.”
The actions on 18 June concerned the town of Chaylu which is located right on the contact line, like a headland and almost surrounded by Azerbaijani controlled territory. This constitutes a violation of the principle of non use of force or threat of use of force that are the basis of the ongoing OSCE mediated talks for a final settlement of the conflict in N-K, the Madrid Principles and the Maindorf Agreement.
Azerbaijani claims that the initiative started from N-K and that Karabakhi troops entered deep into their territory do not make sense for three reasons:
1. Both forces are in this place only a few hundred meters away from each other. No small Armenian commando could break through, and Azerbaijan has been behind similarly planned tactical reconnaissance operations in recent months.
2. Azerbaijan has in this place one of its strongest defence positions, to protect the town of Tartar, which is only 3km away.
3. The bodies of the killed soldiers have been found on the Armenian side of the security buffer zone controlled by the N-K Defence Force. For that reason, according to unofficial sources from Azerbaijan and N-K, the body of the Azeri commando is still in N-K.

 

Michael Kambeck added, “The EU cannot and should not interfere in the OSCE Minsk Group process. But since the situation is still tense on the contact line, we definitely need to think about other instruments now, just to avoid a second Georgian War. We also need to insist on the consolidation of the ceasefire regime by removing snipers and installing observers on both sides. There is no time to wait.”

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