BERLIN (Combined Sources) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a “lasting ceasefire” in Nagorno-Karabakh after discussing the sharp escalation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict with Armenia’s visiting President Serzh Sarkisian on Wednesday.

“The agenda of Armenian-German relations is too broad. it includes multifaceted bilateral relations, Armenia-EU, Armenia-NATO cooperation and participation in peacekeeping missions,” President Serzh Sarkisian said at the joint press conference.

“I briefed Chancellor Merkel on the developments of the past few days. Armenia highly appreciates the support of the OSCE German Presidency to the negotiations on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group,” he said.

“Back in January, Germany expressed its support to the proposal to implement a mechanism of investigation of border incidents. Armenia backs the implementation of this mechanism, as well as the withdrawal of snipers from the line of contact,” President Sarkisian said. He added, however, that Azerbaijan has always denied any confidence-building measures and pursued different objectives.

“The people of Karabakh do not want war. What they want is one simple thing – the right to determine their future, they want to live in a democratic country, and expect the international community to recognize this right,” Serzh Sarkisian added.

President Sarkisian expressed gratitude to Germany and personally Angela Merkel for their consistent support to the development of Armenia-EU relations.

Chancellor Merkel on her part called for a “lasting ceasefire” in Nagorno-Karabakh and “constructive support” to international efforts to stop fighting on the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontlines and broker the conflict’s peaceful resolution. A Karabakh settlement is of “utmost importance,” the German DPA news agency quoted her as saying.

“Above all everything must be done so that more blood is not spilled and lives lost, and so the efforts to reach an acceptable and lasting ceasefire are extremely urgent,” Merkel told a joint news conference with Sarkisian, according to Reuters.

Sarkisian also held separate talks in Berlin with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. With Germany currently holding the rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Steinmeier has repeatedly expressed concern at the bloody hostilities in Karabakh in recent days. He discussed the matter with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a phone call on Tuesday.

“The situation right now is very volatile,” Steinmeier said after the meeting with Sarkisian, according to the TASS news agency. He warned that fierce clashes along the Karabakh “line of contact” could resume unless the conflicting parties agree to a “long-term renunciation of the use of force,” bolster the ceasefire regime and embark on negotiations, under the OSCE Minsk Group auspices, on Karabakh’s “future status.”

“We would like to see that happen in the near future,” said German minister.

A statement by the Armenian presidential press service said Sarkisian and Steinmeier voiced support for specific confidence-building measures advocated by the Minsk Group’s U.S., Russian and French co-chairs. Those include withdrawal of Armenian and Azerbaijani snipers from “the line of contact” and a mechanism for international investigations of truce violations there.

Azerbaijan rejects these proposed safeguards against bloodshed, saying that they would only cement the status quo in the unresolved conflict. It has also repeatedly accused the U.S., Russian and French mediators of pro-Armenian bias.



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