BREAKING NEWS
This content is not available in your region

Blame game continues as Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders speak exclusively to Euronews

Comments
euronews_icons_loading
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev (L) and Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (R).
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev (L) and Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (R).   -   Copyright  AP Photo
Text size Aa Aa

As fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in Nagorno-Karabakh continued for a tenth consecutive day on Wednesday, a ceasefire remains unlikely with the two countries blaming each other for the latest flare-up in deadly violence.

Euronews secured agreements from both Armenian and Azerbaijan leaders to be interviewed one after the other in a news special.

It saw Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev both reject responsibility for the latest escalation.

"Ceasefire cannot be achieved unilaterally," Aliyev told Euronews. "It must be a bilateral decision. And also it must be implemented on the ground. As you know, Armenia attacked us on the 27th September, attacking our military positions and damaging our infrastructure, attacking civilians."

But his claims were flatly denied by Pashinyan, who said: "There is sufficient information Armenia and Karabakh could not start this war for the simple reason that we have no military tasks to accomplish here. The task we have is a political one."

"Our only purpose is to protect the Armenian people from another genocide. It is a self-defence purpose," he added.

The two former Soviet states waged a violent war in the early 1990s for control over the disputed mountainous region Nagorno-Karabakh in which thousands lost their lives and hundreds of thousands were displaced. The conflict ended with a truce in 1994.

But as the issue remains unsolved, several episodes of violence have since erupted. Nagorno-Karabakh lies in Azerbaijan but is controlled by ethnic Armenians supported by Armenia.

The latest flare-up of violence started on September 27 and prompted immediate calls for a ceasefire by France, Russia and the US who together co-chair the OSCE Minsk group tasked, since 1992, with helping the two sides find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

The region's capital, known as Stepanakert for Armenians and Khankendi for Azerbaijan, has increasingly come under fire in recent days along with other settlements on the Armenian side. But towns and villages on the Azeri side have also been by shelling. Both sides have also blamed the other for expanding the conflict beyond the region and for targeting civilians.

The EU's foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, on Wednesday reiterated the bloc's call for an immediate, unconditional ceasefire and once more urged the two countries to return to the negotiations table.

"We have seen extremely worrying reports of attacks on populated areas which is taking a deadly toll on civilians. We strongly urge both sides to fully observe their international obligations to protect civilian populations," he told MEPs during an address to parliament.

He also flagged that "detailed information is scarce" because there are no OSCE observers on the ground.

"What we observe is an increasing amount of information which is aimed at mobilising the domestic audiences in both countries and could be used to pull regional actors into the conflict," he added.

"At this stage, further escalation of the conflict and involvement of regional actors, unhappily, cannot be excluded. This could seriously threaten the stability of the whole region," Borrell said.

He added that he had held telephone conversations with the foreign minister of Turkey and Russia n recent days.

"It is important that regional actors refrain from any activity and rhetoric that could inflame things even further," he said.