Armenian PM sees no way to settle conflict through diplomacy

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Armenian Defense Ministry Press office/ PAN Photo

An ethnic Armenian soldier smiles as he speaks to journalists at a fighting position on the front line, during a military conflict against Azerbaijan's armed forces in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Armenia's prime minister has urged citizens to sign up as military volunteers to help defend the country amid the conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh as intense fighting has raged for a fourth week with no sign of abating. (Sipan Gyulumyan, Armenian Defense Ministry Press office/PAN Photo via AP)

YEREVAN – Armenia's prime minister said Wednesday that Azerbaijan's aggressive stance in the 25-day fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh leaves no room for diplomacy, and urged citizens to sign up as military volunteers to protect their country.

In a live video address on Facebook, Nikol Pashinian said that 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.”

On Friday, Armenia and Azerbaijan's foreign ministers are due to meet the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington. On Wednesday they held separate talks with Russia's foreign minister.

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces 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 the war's end.

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 Nagorno-Karabakh officials, 834 of their troops have been killed, and more than 30 civilians. Azerbaijan hasn’t disclosed its military losses, but says 63 civilians have died and 292 have been wounded.

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said that to end hostilities Armenian forces must withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh. He has insisted that Azerbaijan has the right to reclaim its territory by force after nearly three decades of international mediation yielded no progress.