The European Union on Friday urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to “immediately” de-escalate tension.
“Recent developments on the Armenia/Azerbaijan border are both dangerous and worrying. Immediate de-escalation is needed,” Peter Stano, the European Commission’s lead spokesman on foreign affairs and security policy, said in a statement.
“The European Union urges both sides to refrain from any further military deployment and actions,” he added.
Stano called on forces to pull back to positions held before May 12 and urged both sides to engage in negotiations on border delimitation and demarcation.
“The EU is ready to provide expertise and help on border delimitation and demarcation, as well as to support much needed confidence building measures, in order to move towards sustainable peace and prosperity for the South Caucasus,” he said.
“We continue to call on Azerbaijan to release all prisoners of war and detainees without delay,” the spokesman added.
On Thursday, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said a “reconnaissance and sabotage group” of Armenian forces, consisting of two groups, “infiltrated” the territory of Azerbaijan.
“As a result of urgent measures, 6 enemy servicemen who tried to mine the supply routes leading to the positions of the Azerbaijan Army on the border were surrounded, neutralized, and taken prisoner,” a ministry statement said.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics 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.
The conflict between the two flared up last year and six weeks of fighting ended with a Russian-brokered truce on Nov. 10.
During that time, Azerbaijan liberated several strategic cities and nearly 300 of its settlements and villages that had been under Armenian occupation for some three decades.
The Nov. 10 cease-fire is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose forces withdrew from the region in line with the agreement.
A joint Turkish-Russian center was established to monitor the cease-fire, with Russian peacekeeping troops also deployed in the region.