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Tensions escalating between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh

Officials from both sides are blaming each other for the shooting in the disputed region


by Isti Miskolczy


On Sunday (27 of September) morning, heavy fighting broke out between the armed forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is internationally recognised as a part of Azerbaijan but controlled and supported by the forces of Armenia and the self-proclaimed (and internationally not recognised) Republic of Artsakh.



Photos courtesy of Kaufdex via Pixabay / Collage made by the author


Armenia


Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia accused Azerbaijan of starting today’s military clash by launching a missile and aerial attack on Artsakh, which left more than 10 people (including women and children) injured.


As a response “Armenian side has shot down 2 helicopters and 3 UAVs, destroyed 3 tanks” the Prime Minister announced. He added: “we stay strong next to our army to protect our motherland from Azeri invasion” – which he claimed “pre-planned”, security-threatening and provocative.


Accordingly, a few hours later “martial law and general mobilisation” have been declared both in Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh region.


Azerbaijan


Casualties were reported on the Azeri side as well, who are blaming Armenia for the attacks. As Al Jazeera reports, Azerbaijan “announced a counter-offensive operation […] to supress the combat activity of the armed forces of Armenia and ensure the safety of the civilian population”. “The new act of aggression by Armenia against Azerbaijan is the continuation of the latest provocations of the Armenian side” – The Azeri Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted, accusing Armenia of the escalation of the armed conflict.


The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev in a televised address said that Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan and they will defend it.


Nagorno-Karabakh


Even though in 1994 a ceasefire between the two opponents was agreed, from time to time tensions tend to escalate between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is mainly lived by ethnic Armenians and Muslim Turks, but internationally recognised as a part of Azerbaijan.


The 4400 square km mountainous territory is controlled by the forces of the (internationally not recognised) Republic of Artsakh (supported by the Government of Armenia), declaring their independence in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This then resulted in the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh war which ended with the 1994 ceasefire. Since then, armed conflicts occasionally occur between Azerbaijan and Armenia alongside the frontiers of the territory. The status and belonging of the territory have been often disputed as well.


International reactions


Ibrahim Kalin, Turkish Presidential Spokesperson condemned “Armenia’s attack on Azerbaijan”. “Armenia has once again violated international law and shown that it has no interest in peace and stability” – he stated. “Turkey stands in full solidarity with Azerbaijan and unreservedly supports its right to self-defense” – the spokesperson to President Erdogan added.


President of the European Council, Charles Michel in a tweet said that “military action must stop as a matter of urgency”. “An immediate return to negotiations without preconditions is the only way forward” – he emphasized.


The American, French, and Russian Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (which is the body of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, specialised in finding a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict) in a joint statement condemned the use of force and called on both sides to “cease hostility immediately and resume negotiations to find a sustainable resolution of the conflict.”


Nevertheless, with the conflict ongoing for more than 30 years and both Armenia and Azerbaijan ethnically heavily involved, some might doubt that such a peaceful resolution will come soon.



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