US Diplomat Pushes for Ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijan wants Turkey to be involved in future peace process

On Monday, US Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun spoke separately with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan and called for an immediate ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. Fighting entered its ninth day in the ethnic Armenian enclave on Monday, where about 250 people have been reported killed.

A statement released by the State Department spokesperson said that Biegun “urged the sides to agree to a ceasefire immediately and resume negotiations” and said, “there is no military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

The US co-chairs the Minsk Group with Russia and France, which was set up in 1992 by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to promote negotiations and peace talks over Nagorno-Karabakh. After heavy fighting killed tens of thousands in the disputed enclave, a ceasefire was reached in 1994. While there have been flare-ups, the clashes seen today are the heaviest fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh since the ceasefire was declared.

Last week, the US, Russia, and France issued a joint statement calling for a ceasefire and new negotiations. Azerbaijan’s ally rebuked the statement from the three countries. “Given that the USA, Russia, and France have neglected this problem for nearly 30 years, it is unacceptable that they are involved in a search for a ceasefire,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

Turkey threw its support behind Azerbaijan immediately as the clashes erupted and demanded Armenia end its “occupation” of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan is using Turkish-supplied drones in the fighting, and Ankara has been accused of sending mercenaries from northern Syria to support Azeri forces. On Monday, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said Turkey must be involved in the peace process.

“Turkey must definitely be in any upcoming peace process. A peace process will surely be started. Clashes cannot go on forever, so the sooner the better,” Aliyev said.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the assistant news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.