NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on Monday for a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh as the death toll rose during fighting in the breakaway enclave in the South Caucasus.
“It is extremely important that we convey a very clear message to all parties that they should cease fighting immediately, that we should support all efforts to find a peaceful, negotiated solution,” Stoltenberg said during a visit to Turkey. “There is no military solution,” he told a news conference.
The fighting began on Sept. 27 and has surged to its worst level since the 1990s, when some 30,000 people were killed.
Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other on Monday of attacking civilian areas on a ninth day of fighting, the deadliest in the South Caucasus region for more than 25 years.
The fighting intensified over the weekend, and prospects for a ceasefire appeared remote after an uncompromising speech from Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on Sunday.
In a televised address to the nation, Aliyev said Azeri forces were advancing and retaking lands that they lost to ethnic Armenians in the 1990s – though Armenia disputes these gains.
He demanded that Armenia set a timetable for withdrawing from Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding Azeri territories, and said Azerbaijan would not cease military action until that happened.