Azerbaijan, Armenia mark anniversary of their war

MOSCOW (AP) — Azerbaijan and Armenia are marking the anniversary of the start of their six-week war in which more than 6,600 people died and which ended with Azerbaijan regaining control of large swaths of territory.

Soldiers carrying photographs of comrades killed in the war marched Monday through the center of the Azerbaijani capital of Baku. In Yerevan, the Armenian capital, thousands of people went to the Yerablur military cemetery to pay their respects to soldiers buried there.

The foreign ministries of each country issued statements blaming the other for starting the war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Nagorno-Karabakh is within Azerbaijan but had been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a separatist war in 1994.

Last year’s war ended when Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a Russia-brokered cease-fire that granted Azerbaijan control over parts of Nagorno-Karabakh as well as adjacent territories occupied by Armenians.

Armenia says more than 3,700 Armenians and Nagorno-Karabakh residents died in the war. Azerbaijan said it lost 2,900 people.

Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry issued a statement placing blame for the war on Armenia, saying: “One year ago today, the armed forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan began responsive measures to counter another military provocation from the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia.”

But Armenia’s foreign ministry said “the 44-day war was a pre-planned and prepared military aggression, the purpose of which was to finally close the Karabakh issue by exterminating the Armenian population.”