Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to ceasefire
Published: 11:44 AM, 10 October 2020 Updated: 12:03 PM, 10 October 2020
Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to a ceasefire from midnight on October 10, and plan to start “substantive” talks over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday said that the countries have agreed to a ceasefire to exchange prisoners and bodies of those killed in the nearly two-weeks-long conflict between Azeri and ethnic Armenian forces over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The breakthrough came after some 10 hours of talks in Moscow, in the early hours of Saturday morning. Russia’s top diplomat said the Red Cross would act as an intermediary in the humanitarian operation.
At least 300 people have been reported killed in the fighting, which broke out on September 27 and is the most serious in the territory since clashes in 2016 left dozens dead.
Lavrov did not provide details on the talks but said the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group would mediate.
Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and his Azeri counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov did not speak to reporters.
The renewed fighting in the decades-old conflict has raised fears of a wider war drawing in Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan, and Russia, which has a defence pact with Armenia.
Under international law, Nagorno-Karabakh is recognised as part of Azerbaijan.
But the ethnic Armenians who make up the vast majority of the population reject Azerbaijani rule and have been running their own affairs, with Armenia’s support, since a devastating war in the 1990s after the then Soviet Union collapsed.
At least 30,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were forced from their homes before an internationally-brokered ceasefire was agreed in 1994.