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YEREVAN, April 22. /TASS/. Escalation of tensions along the line of engagement in Nagorno-Karabakh has thrown the conflict settlement negotiations far back, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said on Friday at a meeting with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
"It happened so that like the recent visit by [Russian Prime Minister] Dmitry Medvedev and you visit is being held in the background of tensions in our region," he said. "It is a secret to no one that this situation is rooted in Azerbaijan’s irresponsible actions. Having launched large-scale combat operations against Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan once again demonstrated that Karabakh can never have anything in common with Azerbaijan."
"Azerbaijan which used its entire arsenal, was rebuffed" but these actions "have thrown the negotiating process far back," the Armenian leader said.
Armenia, in his words, has always been playing a constructive role in the process of settlement. "We have always been sure that co-chair of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Nagorno-Karabakh will in the long run announce their approach to this problem and will name the party that is rejecting these proposals," Sargsyan said. "Regrettably, the Azeri thought they are free to violate the agreement signed back in 1994-1995 and the accords we reached during these long talks."
In the past nine years, "we have been active witnesses and participants in this process, we have been doing our best to find mutually acceptable solutions, to be constructive," the Armenia president stressed, adding that the Armenian side is confident that this problem can be settled only peacefully, on the basis of compromise.
He noted that the agenda of the Armenian-Russian relations is rather reach and various topics are tackled at meetings at various levels, including summit meetings.
The situation along the line of engagement of the conflicting parties in Nagorno-Karabakh deteriorated dramatically overnight to April 2. Following fierce armed clashes at the contact line, the parties to the conflict accused each other of violating truce.
On April 5, Russia mediated a meeting between Colonel-General Nadzhmeddin Sadykov, the chief of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces General Staff, and Colonel-General Yuri Khachaturov, the chief of the Armenian Armed Forces General Staff, that took place in Moscow. The sides agreed to cease the hostilities on the line disengaging the Azerbaijani and Armenian troops in Nagorno-Karabakh. The defense ministries of Azerbaijan and Armenia announced a ceasefire on the contact line as of 12:00 (11:00 Moscow time) the same day. Ever since, the parties occasionally report brief exchanges of fire at the contact line.
The conflict between neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up but was mainly populated by Armenians, broke out in the late 1980s.
In 1991-1994, the confrontation spilled over into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and some adjacent territories. Thousands left their homes on both sides in a conflict that killed 30,000. A truce was called between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh republic on one side and Azerbaijan on the other in May 1994.