U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that the deadliest fighting in years between Armenia and Azerbaijan risks “disastrous” consequences as local clashes overshadowed her visit to the region.
An Armenian soldier was killed early today and two wounded during an exchange of fire with Azeri troops, which attacked along the militarized cease-fire line in Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed region’s defense forces said in a statement on their website today. That brought the three-day death toll between the two former Soviet republics to nine.
“There is no military solution to this conflict,” Clinton told reporters today in the Azeri capital, Baku, following a June 4 visit to Armenia. “Everybody should work to keep the peace and comply with the 1994 cease-fire agreement.”
Energy-rich Azerbaijan fought a war with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, a mostly ethnic Armenian-populated region that broke free of Baku’s control after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. Clinton, who is visiting the South Caucasus region this week, said the clashes could have “disastrous and unpredictable consequences.”
Five Azeri soldiers died during a border clash with Armenian troops yesterday, according to the Azeri Defense Ministry. Armenia’s Defense Ministry said three soldiers were killed a day earlier by Azeris.
Azeri Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said he planned to meet his Armenian counterpart, Eduard Nalbandian, later this month to try to reach a settlement after recent tensions.
Nagorno-Karabakh remains a potential flash point in a region where Russia fought a five-day war with Georgia in 2008 after separatist tensions flared up. While the hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan largely ended after a Russia- brokered cease-fire in 1994, the countries have failed to reach a peace agreement. Companies led by London-based BP Plc (BP/) have invested about $35 billion in Azerbaijan’s oil and gas fields since 1991.
To contact the reporters on this story: Helena Bedwell in Tbilisi at email@example.com; Zulfugar Agayev in Baku at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at email@example.com