The NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says the organisation will remain neutral in clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Armenia’s President Armen Sarkissian visited NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday amid violent clashes between his country and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
But the visit proved futile as NATO's Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, later said NATO will not be a part of the ongoing tussle.
“I reminded the [Armenian] president that NATO is not part of this conflict. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have been valued NATO partners for more than 25 years,” said Stoltenberg in a joint news conference with President Sarkissian.
“NATO is deeply concerned by ongoing violations of the cease-fire, which have caused tragic loss of life,” said Stoltenberg, adding that ending hostilities and sufferings is important for both the alliance and international security.
“It is vital that all sides now show restraint, observe the cease-fire, and de-escalate. Any targeting of civilians is unacceptable and must stop,” he added.
Despite the Secretary-General emphasising that the targeting of civilians is unacceptable, Armenia had repeatedly violated ceasefire by hitting civilian settlements that killed dozens of Azerbaijanis.
Furthermore, Stoltenberg urged both countries to resume negotiations to reach a sustainable political solution in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
‘No political solution’
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan however said: “The Karabakh issue, at least at this stage, has no diplomatic solution,” in a live Facebook address to his nation.
In reply to Pashinyan's statement, Azerbaijani presidential aide, Hikmet Hajiyev, said that Armenia was "not interested at all in the peaceful resolution of the conflict."
Underlining that Pashinyan "recklessly" and "for the sake of his political ambitions" encouraged all civil bodies and civilians to take up arms, Hajiyev said this official position "proves" which side broke past humanitarian ceasefires and contributed to the "escalation of the situation in the region."
"Indeed, such statements by a person who orders a 'SCUD'-type ballistic missile attack on Azerbaijan's Ganja city and constant rocket and artillery shelling of other cities and districts' residents must not come as a surprise."
Additionally, Turkey’s presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said on Twitter that Pashinyan's statement "reveals the intention of Armenia. It is clear who wants war."
Kalin added that peace and stability "will come to the South Caucasus only when Karabakh is freed from occupation."
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.
Four UN Security Council resolutions, and two from the UN General Assembly, as well as international organisations, demand the "immediate complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces" from the occupied Azerbaijani territory.
Several hundred people have been killed since September 27 in fighting involving drones, warplanes, heavy artillery, tanks and missiles, raising fears of a humanitarian crisis and concerns about the security of oil and gas pipelines in Azerbaijan.
The Azerbaijani army's operations to recapture territories occupied for nearly 30 years by Armenian forces are continuing as the two sides engage in the deadliest clashes since the 90s.