Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's foreign policy adviser, Hikmat Hajiyev slammed Wednesday Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's call to arms and dismissal of diplomatic solutions to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Earlier in the day, Pashinian urged citizens to sign up as military volunteers to protect their country and claimed "Azerbaijan's aggressive stance" in the 25-day clash over Nagorno-Karabakh leaves no room for diplomacy.
Hajiyev said the statement reflects Armenia's lack of interest in a diplomatic solution and disrespect the efforts of international mediators.
The disputed Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory. The Azerbaijani military has been fighting to end the illegal occupation by Armenian separatists, while Armenian forces continue indiscriminate attacks on Azeri civilians.
In a live video address on Facebook, Pashinyan said all Armenians must "take up arms and defend the Motherland" and urged local mayors to organize volunteer units.
He charged that Azerbaijan's "uncompromising posture" has shattered hopes for a political settlement. "There is no way now to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh issue through diplomacy," Pashinian said.
"In this situation, we may consider all hopes, proposals and ideas about the need to find a diplomatic settlement effectively terminated."
Pashinian said Azerbaijan's stance on Nagorno-Karabakh effectively means the region surrenders.
"There is no Armenia without Nagorno-Karabakh," Pashinian said. "Defending Nagorno-Karabakh means defending the Armenian people's rights," he added, despite the fact Armenian occupation of the region is illegal.
On Friday, Armenia and Azerbaijan's foreign ministers are due to meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington. On Wednesday they held separate talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of Armenian separatists, backed by Armenia, since a war there ended in 1994. The current fighting that started on Sept. 27 marks the biggest escalation in the conflict since.
Two Russia-brokered cease-fires frayed immediately after entering force, and the warring parties have continued to trade blows with heavy artillery, rockets and drones.
According to Armenian separatists, 834 of their troops have been killed, while Azerbaijan has said 63 civilians were killed and 292 wounded.
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said that to end hostilities, Armenian forces must withdraw from the illegally occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.
Pashinian's statements came after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held two separate meetings with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts in Moscow to discuss the implementation of a cease-fire in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
"During the talks, urgent issues related to the implementation of previously reached agreements on a cease-fire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and the creation of conditions for its sustainable settlement were discussed," the ministry said in a statement, following Lavrov's meeting with Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Jeyhun Bayramov.
Azerbaijani authorities said at least 60 civilians have been killed and 270 wounded since Sept. 27, but they haven’t revealed military losses.
The number of houses damaged in Armenian attacks has reached over 1,700, along with 90 residential buildings and 327 civil facilities, according to Azerbaijani officials.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.
Turkey has supported Baku's right to self-defense and demanded a withdrawal of the occupying forces.
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