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Azerbaijani Soldier Killed, Another Injured in Armenian Shelling on Conditional Border

By Ilham Karimli May 11, 2023

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The Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan said Armenia's provocations have taken place amidst the intensification of efforts for the negotiations on a peace treaty / Umit Bektas / Reuters

On Wednesday, Armenia committed another bloody provocation on the conditional border with Azerbaijan. 

According to the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan, Armenian military units in the Basarkechar border region shelled the opposite positions of the Azerbaijan army with various types of small arms on Wednesday evening, seriously injuring a long-term active military serviceman, Mahmudlu Muslum. The situation escalated on Thursday morning when the Armenian side used mortars and large-caliber weapons, leading to short but bloody clashes on the conditional border between the two countries. Novruzalizade Orkhan, a long-term active military serviceman of the Azerbaijan Armed Forces, was killed during the hostilities. 

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reported on Thursday that Armenia had relocated additional personnel and combat equipment to the Basarkechar region on the border.

“By this, the opposing side is attempting to create a basis for the next provocation. We once again state that the Armenian military-political leadership bears the entire responsibility for the tension in the region,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Defense Ministry of Armenia reported injuries of three Armenian servicemen in the clashes, according to local media.

The Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan noted that Armenia’s provocations have taken place amidst the intensification of efforts for the negotiations on a peace treaty, including the talks scheduled for this weekend, which indicates that Yerevan is not interested in the peace process. 

“Such actions of Armenia, which undermine the negotiation process, must be seriously rejected and condemned by the international community,” the ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The clashes on the conditional Armenia-Azerbaijan border took place before the upcoming meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders in Brussels on May 14, where they are expected to discuss the peace treaty. However, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said the probability of signing the treaty with Azerbaijan in Brussels is low.

From May 1-4, Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia – Jeyhun Bayramov and Ararat Mirzoyan – held consecutive meetings in the US hosted by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Back then, Blinken announced that the sides “made tangible progress on a durable peace agreement.”

Armenia and Azerbaijan had been at odds over the latter's Karabakh (Garabagh) region since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, when Armenia launched a military campaign against Azerbaijan. The war lasted until a ceasefire deal reached in 1994 and as a result, Armenia occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. Over 30,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis were killed, and one million were expelled from these lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by Armenia. The conflict spiraled again on September 27, 2020, after Armenia’s forces illegally deployed in occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During counter-attack operations, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha. The war ended in a statement signed on November 10, 2020, under which Armenia returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan. 

However, the process of achieving lasting peace has been hindered by Armenia’s demands, including so-called “rights and security” for nearly 25,000 Armenians living in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, in addition to avoiding fulfilling its obligations under the trilateral statement, such as the withdrawal of its armed formations from the Azerbaijani territories.