Armenia Proposes Demilitarized Zone Around Nagorno-Karabakh
By RFE/RL November 10, 2022
YEREVAN -- Armenia has proposed creating a demilitarized zone with international guarantees around Azerbaijan's mostly Armenian-populated breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Speaking at a weekly session of his government on November 10, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said he voiced this proposal, originally put forth by Nagorno-Karabakh's de facto authorities, at a meeting on October 31 with the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan in Sochi, Russia.
"It is proposed to create a demilitarized zone around Nagorno-Karabakh with international guarantees, as a result of which Nagorno-Karabakh may not need a defense army of that scale. This proposal is still valid, I think," Pashinian said.
Pashinian also said an updated proposal on the demilitarization of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border zone was proposed to Azerbaijan, suggesting it withdraw its troops from the border line confirmed in 1991 when both nations gained independence, creating a three-kilometer demilitarized zone on either side.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of cease-fire violations along the border in recent days.
A spokesman for Armenia's Defense Ministry said one of its soldiers had been shot and wounded on November 10 along the border in what Yerevan says was a fresh cease-fire violation by Baku.
Aram Torosian said the Armenian soldier was wounded by "an enemy shot" and was in severe condition.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry issued a statement denying the report.
"Azerbaijani units did not open fire in the mentioned direction," the statement said, calling the report a "lie."
Baku on November 9 accused ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh of firing at Azerbaijani military positions in the east of the region the previous night. De facto Armenian authorities in Stepanakert denied the accusation.
Reports of shootings along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and in Karabakh come days after the latest round of talks focused on a peace deal between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Ararat Mirzoyan and Jeyhun Bayramov, that was hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on November 7.
In a statement issued on the results of the talks the Armenian and Azerbaijani ministers said they agreed to expedite negotiations and organize another meeting in the coming weeks.
During the October 31 meeting hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pashinian and Aliyev pledged not to use force to resolve the conflict.
Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of invading and occupying parts of its territory in the border zone during several incursions since May 2021. Azerbaijan denies any occupation, referring to the fact of the absence of delimitation and demarcation of the nearly 500-kilometer border between the two South Caucasus nations.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh for years. Some 30,000 people were killed in a war in the early 1990s that left ethnic Armenians in control of the breakaway region and seven adjacent districts of Azerbaijan proper.
The two sides fought another war in 2020 that lasted six weeks and killed thousands of people on both sides before a Russia-brokered cease-fire, resulting in Armenians' losing control over parts of the region and the adjacent districts.
Under the cease-fire agreement Moscow deployed about 2,000 troops in the region to serve as peacekeepers.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.
With reporting by AFP and RFE/RL's Armenian Service
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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