The European Union Wednesday called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to show restraint and resume negotiations amid renewed fighting at the border of the two countries.
“The EU is deeply concerned over the recent violence along the Armenia-Azerbaijani border, which has regrettably led to the loss of life,” Peter Stano, a spokesperson for the bloc’s diplomatic service, said in a statement.
The bloc called on both sides “to exercise utmost restraint, disengage their military forces on the ground,” the statement said, urging Armenia and Azerbaijan to respect the cease-fire and return to negotiations.
Charles Michel, the head of the European Council presiding over the EU leaders’ summits, repeated the same message to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in separate phone calls.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said at least seven Azerbaijani soldiers were “martyred during combat operations” on the Armenian border on Tuesday. Baku accused the Armenian forces of carrying out “large-scale provocations” against their army checkpoints in the Kalbajar and Lachin border regions. In response, the Azerbaijani army launched an emergency operation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday discussed the border tensions with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
During a 44-day conflict that started in late September last year, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, 300 settlements, and villages that were illegally occupied by Armenia for almost 30 years.