VIENNA (Sputnik) — Tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Armenian-held area flared overnight after heavy fighting erupted on the line of contact. Both nations reported casualties and traded blame for starting the fighting in violation of the 1994 ceasefire.
"Steinmeier is calling on the sides to cease hostilities immediately," a statement on the OSCE website reads.
The top German diplomat is actively involved in the efforts to deescalate the conflict and address ceasefire violations that, according to his office, have reached "a new quality" compared to previous years.
Steinmeier held a telephone conversation with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and also plans to speak to Azerbaijan’s foreign policy chief Elmar Mammadyarov.
UN Chief Disturbed by Upsurge in Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday said he was deeply disturbed by the upsurge in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and called on all parties to put an immediate end to the fighting.
"The Secretary-General is deeply disturbed by the recent reports of large-scale ceasefire violations along the Line of Contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone," the UN said in a statement.
Ban was particularly concerned by the reported use of heavy weapons and by the large numbers of casualties, including among the civilian population. He urged all sides to the conflict to take steps to deescalate the situation.
The OSCE Group on conflict settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh is set to meet next Tuesday to discuss a new spate of violence in the mountainous region in Azerbaijan, which is under Armenian control.
The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh began in 1988, when the Armenian-dominated autonomous region sought to secede from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. It proclaimed independence after the Soviet collapse in 1991. In September 2015, the conflict escalated, with the sides blaming each other for violating the truce.