MOSCOW, October 23 (RIA Novosti) - Germany's foreign minister Walter Steinmeier has called on leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to resolve the long-lasting conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh with peaceful means and put an end to controversies and deteriorating relations plaguing the two countries for more than 2 decades, EUbusiness reports.
"We in Europe have watched with some concern that there have been more and more incidents of late," Steinmeier told his Azerbaijani colleague Elmar Mammadyarov, referring to recurrent minor skirmishes between Azerbaijani and Armenian border security forces, which have recommenced since August 2014.
Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region in South Caucasus, has been a matter of dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan for more than twenty years. The conflict officially began on December 10, 1991, when ethnic Armenians, residing in Nagorno-Karabakh and constituting 95% of the region’s population, held a referendum and declared the creation of an independent state. Since the option given by the Soviets for enhanced autonomy within Azerbaijan was undesirable for both sides, a violent conflict broke out between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, supported by Armenia.
The conflict officially came to an end after a ceasefire was signed in 1993. However, persistent ceasefire violations and recurrent border clashes have raised concerns among European countries and they have urged all parties to increase their mediation efforts.
The President of France Francois Hollande is planning to organize negotiations with OSCE Minsk, a group designed to achieve settlement of the conflict with peaceful means. Hollande will also arrange special meetings with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian.
Recently, according to the website Kavkazsky Uzel, both countries have accused each other of ceasefire violations in the period of 12 to 18 October. Several minor military clashes and shelling in the border area were reported.