The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers have met in New York with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in the first official direct talks between the two countries since the recent military escalation on their shared border.
Blinken met with Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers Ararat Mirzoyan and Jeyhun Bayramov on 19 September.
‘As I conveyed during the meeting, it is time for troops to disengage and diplomats to return to the table’, Blinken wrote on Twitter after the meeting.
Today I hosted direct talks between Armenian Foreign Minister @AraratMirzoyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister @bayramov_jeyhun. As I conveyed during the meeting, it is time for troops to disengage and diplomats to return to the table. pic.twitter.com/Z6zCGjRm2u
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) September 20, 2022
According to an official statement from the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Ararat Mirzoyan ‘highlighted the importance of the immediate resolution of humanitarian issues, including the repatriation of prisoners of war’.
‘During the course of the meeting, Mirzoyan underscored that Azerbaijani armed forces must withdraw from the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, that the use of force or the threat of force is unacceptable, and that international mechanisms must be implemented to prevent further escalations’, the statement reads.
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Bayramov additionally stated that Azerbaijan ‘is not interested in destabilisation’, as the country ‘is carrying out large-scale reconstruction work in the region and settling former internally displaced persons’.
During the meeting, Bayramov noted that a ceasefire was announced a few hours after the start of the military clashes, but claimed that it had been violated by the Armenian side.
Bayramov appears to be referring to a failed Russian-brokered ceasefire on the morning of 13 September.
The meeting came less than a week after Azerbaijan attacked Armenian military positions and civilian infrastructure on their shared border — a two-day war that claimed the lives of over 200 between 13 and 14 September.
Armenia has claimed 207 deaths or missing persons and at least 20 soldiers taken prisoner by Azerbaijan, in addition to three civilians killed and two missing, and around a dozen civilian injuries. Azerbaijan has reported that 80 of its service members were killed during the fighting, while 282 other soldiers and two civilians were injured.
US condemns ‘invasion of Armenia’
Two days following the end of the fighting, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Armenia, in a trip planned prior to the recent conflict. While in Yerevan, she explicitly blamed Azerbaijan for its ‘invasion of Armenia’. Pelosi and her delegation made reference on several occasions to the failure of Armenia’s current security arrangements with Russia and the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), while maintaining that such arrangements were a matter for Armenia to decide.
In response to Pelosi’s appearance in the Armenian capital, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the House Speaker’s accusations ‘groundless and unfair’.
'The statement made by Nancy Pelosi, which distorts the situation in the region, is deeply regrettable. The groundless and unfair accusations made by Pelosi against Azerbaijan are unacceptable.'
The Azerbaijani ministry also accused Pelosi of catering to the Armenian community in the United States.
‘Pelosi is known as a pro-Armenian politician, and the presence of pro-Armenian members of Congress in her delegation directly demonstrates this’, the statement continued.
[Read more: Pelosi condemns Baku and pledges support for Armenia]
The disputed region’s president, Arayik Harutyunyan, held a press conference stating that Armenia is ‘facing a new war’ that could be ‘more devastating’ than the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020. He added that ‘hostile foreign forces’ are trying to ‘undermine the role of the Russian peacekeeping mission and create mistrust towards Russia [in Nagorno-Karabakh]’.