PARIS (Sputnik) – Tensions between neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Armenian-held area flared after both nations accused each other of starting the fighting overnight in violation of the 1994 ceasefire.
"There cannot be any alternatives to the negotiated solution. The [French] republic’s head, who met with the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents in Paris in October 2014, reaffirms his commitment to a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the shortest term possible," Hollande said in a statement.
He also called on all the parties involved to show restraint and observe the ceasefire strictly.
"The president of the republic deeply regrets the serious incidents in Nagorno-Karabakh, near the line of contact, which claimed many lives, including among civilians," Hollande added.
The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh has not abated since 1988 when the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region with predominantly ethnic Armenian population announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.
Following armed actions in 1992-1994 that left some 30,000 people dead, Azerbaijan lost control over Karabakh and the adjacent territories. Nagorno Karabakh declared independence but does not participate in negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan which are still technically at war after a conflict over the disputed region.
A ceasefire was agreed on in 1994, but a permanent peace deal has still not been signed. Since 1992, the OSCE Minsk Group and its co-chairs Russia, France and the United States have been negotiating a lasting and peaceful settlement of the conflict.