The foreign ministries of Armenia and Azerbaijan said in a statement on Saturday that they had agreed on a cease-fire, which will begin at midnight local time.
“This decision was taken following the statement of the presidents of the French Republic, the Russian Federation and the United States of America, representing the co-chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group,” both foreign ministries said in a statement with identical wording.
A Russian-brokered cease-fire was agreed last Saturday to allow the sides to swap detainees and the bodies of those killed, but it broke down quickly as both sides continued carrying out attacks, while accusing each other of violating the ceasefire. Fighting has continued throughout the week.
On Saturday, Azerbaijani officials said an Armenian missile struck a residential district in Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second-largest city, leveling homes and killing 13 civilians with 50 more wounded.
The European Union, Russia and the US have all called for the fighting to stop and for peace talks to be mediated by representatives from France, Russia and the United States, known as the Minsk Group.
It was created in 1992 by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to encourage a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh amid a full-blown war that killed at least 30,000 people and ended without a peace treaty in 1994.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called both his counterparts in Armenia and Azerbaijan before the announcement Saturday and said both sides need to “strictly follow” last week’s cease-fire deal, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.
French President Emmanuel Macron released a statement shortly after the announcement, calling for the cease-fire to be “unconditional and strictly observed by both parties.”
“France will be very attentive to this and will remain committed so that hostilities cease permanently and that credible discussions can quickly begin,” the president’s office said.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but it is populated and governed by ethnic Armenians after it was seized during the war in the early 1990s.
Azerbaijan has insisted it has the right to reclaim the region by force, claiming the Minsk group’s efforts have failed to bring progress after three decades.
wmr/rs (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)
Armenia and Azerbaijan agree new cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Deutsche Welle.