BAKU (AFP/Reuters) – Azerbaijan on Sunday condemned U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for saying that Baku had started a border conflict with Armenia during her visit to Yerevan.
Pelosi’s remarks that Azerbaijan had conducted an “illegal” assault on Armenia’s sovereignty were “unsubstantiated and unfair” and dealt a serious blow to peace efforts, said Azerbaijan.
“The unsubstantiated and unfair accusations leveled by Pelosi against Azerbaijan are unacceptable,” Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “Pelosi is known as a pro-Armenian politician,” the statement added.
“This is a serious blow to the efforts to normalize relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” said the foreign ministry.
Azerbaijan repeated its position that the recent fighting was the result of “a large-scale military provocation” by Armenia.
Earlier Sunday, Pelosi condemned what she described as an “illegal” attack by Azerbaijan on Armenia that sparked the worst fighting since their 2020 war.
Baku and Yerevan have accused each other of initiating the border clashes on Tuesday, which claimed the lives of more than 200 people.
Pelosi, who arrived in Yerevan on Saturday for a three-day visit, is the highest-ranking U.S. official to travel to Armenia since the tiny nation gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars — in the 1990s and in 2020 — over the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh an enclave of Azerbaijan.
Together with France and Russia, the U.S. co-chairs the Minsk Group of mediators, which had led decades-long talks between Baku and Yerevan under the aegis of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Analysts have said the recent fighting has largely undone Western efforts to bring Baku and Yerevan closer to a peace deal.
The six-week war in 2020 claimed the lives of more than 6,500 troops from both sides and ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire.
Under the deal, Armenia ceded swathes of territory it had occupied for decades, and Moscow deployed about 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to oversee the fragile truce.