The FINANCIAL -- Azerbaijan is ready to declare a cease-fire if Armenia first does the same, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday after speaking on the telephone with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev, Anadolu Agency reported.
According to the statement, Azerbaijan also decided to strengthen the liberated territories’ defensive positions.
"If the Armenian armed forces do not stop provocative actions and continue shelling the residential areas and combat positions, the Azerbaijani armed forces will continue offensive operations to destroy the Armenian forces to liberate the occupied lands,” said the statement. “The offensive operations will continue to ensure Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity by using all available military equipment."
Speaking exclusively to Anadolu Agency, Azerbaijan Vice President Ali Hasanov confirmed that Azerbaijan has suspended offensive military operations in the area.
“Azerbaijan has stopped its offensive operations, but Armenia continues its assault,” Hasanov said.
On Saturday, the OSCE’s Minsk Group expressed their concerns over the latest border hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
“The co-chairs call upon the sides to stop shooting and take all necessary measures to stabilize the situation on the ground. They reiterate that there is no alternative to a peaceful negotiated solution of the conflict and that war is not an option,” said an OSCE statement.
Azerbaijan reclaimed land occupied by Armenia during the clashes on Friday and Saturday, which saw 12 Azerbaijani soldiers martyred.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said that its army had launched the operations in the Agdere, Terter, Agdam, Hocavend and Fuzuli regions to protect civilian lives.
During the operations, the Azerbaijani Army reclaimed some strategic hills and residential zones.
Pro-Armenian militia have occupied Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region since 1993, similar to how pro-Russian militia have illegally occupied parts of Ukraine (the Donbass region) since 2014.
Three UN Security Council Resolutions (853, 874 and 884) and United Nations General Assembly Resolutions 19/13 and 57/298 refer to Karabakh as being part of Azerbaijan. However, none of them are legally binding.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) refers to the territory (Resolution 1416) as being occupied by Armenian forces.
Earlier in the day, Erdogan said, “When I heard about the issue, I called my brother Ilham Aliyev. He was on way to the airport to return to Azerbaijan. We extended our condolences and at that time, the clashes were continuing. However, I just learned that Azerbaijan is ready to declare a cease-fire if Armenia first declares a cease-fire.”