Putin, Trump, Macron urge ‘immediate’ ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijan forces attack an Armenian army tank in the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. (AP pic)

PARIS: The presidents of Russia, the US and France called Thursday for a ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, urging Armenia and Azerbaijan to commit to talks without delay or preconditions.

“We call for an immediate cessation of hostilities between the relevant military forces,” French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump of the US said in a statement released by the Elysee.

“We also call on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to commit without delay to resuming substantive negotiations,” said the leaders, whose countries are the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk group that has sought a solution to the conflict since the 1990s.

The statement said such talks should be “in good faith and without preconditions” and be held under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.

The Minsk group, which was created by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 1992, has on occasion overseen summits between Armenian and Azeri leaders but has failed to find any lasting resolution to the conflict.

The fiercest clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in years over the region erupted last Sunday. The number of confirmed deaths neared 130 as fighting raged for a fifth day.

The rival Caucasus nations have been locked in a bitter stalemate over the Karabakh region since the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the ethnic Armenian region broke away from Azerbaijan.

Karabakh’s declaration of independence from Azerbaijan sparked a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives.

Controlled by ethnic Armenians, the region is still not recognised as independent by any country, including Armenia.