Fighting in Karabakh: EU calls for “immediate return to negotiations”

A conflict that Paris and Brussels condemn. France said on Sunday September 27 “deeply concerned about the ongoing large-scale clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh”, calling on the belligerents to “immediately cease hostilities and resume dialogue”. In a press release published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paris, “with its Russian and American partners, reiterates its commitment with a view to reaching a negotiated and lasting settlement of the conflict” in this region, “with respect for international law”.

For his part, the President of the European Council, an institution representing the Member States of the EU, Charles Michel, called on Sunday for the cessation of hostilities between Azerbaijani forces and the separatists in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and for the “return immediately to negotiations ”. “The information concerning the hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh is the source of the most serious concerns,” Charles Michel said on Twitter. “The military action must stop urgently to prevent any escalation (of the violence). An immediate return to negotiations, without preconditions, is the only possible way. “

Woman and child killed, Yerevan says

Armenia and Azerbaijan are on the brink of war on Sunday, with deadly fighting erupting between Azerbaijani forces and the Yerevan-backed breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The belligerents have reported military and civilian casualties. According to the Armenian side, a woman and a child were killed. Azerbaijan announced that it had conquered half a dozen villages under Armenian control during fighting along the front line, information denied by its Armenian enemy.

A major conflict involving Azerbaijan and Armenia could lead to the intervention of competing powers in the Caucasus region, Russia and Turkey. The conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh, which seceded from Azerbaijan with Armenian support, has fueled regional tensions for thirty years.

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After the announcement of the first fighting on Sunday morning, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pachinian decreed “general mobilization” and the establishment of “martial law”, as did the authorities of Karabakh. “Let us firmly support our State, our army (…) and we will win. Long live the glorious Armenian army! He wrote on Facebook. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev also pledged victory.

“The Azerbaijani army is fighting today on its territory, defends its territorial integrity, delivers devastating blows to the enemy. Our cause is just and we will win, ”he said, in a speech on television. Moscow called as early as Sunday morning “for an immediate ceasefire” and for talks, while the two camps are rejecting responsibility for the hostilities.

France, mediator in the conflict with Russia and the United States within the framework of the Minsk Group, also called for “an immediate end to hostilities”. A spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a traditional ally of Baku, denounced on Twitter an “attack on Armenia”. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said for its part to have launched a “counter-offensive on the entire front line” of Karabakh, in order to “put an end to military activities of the armed forces of Armenia”.

Civilian and military casualties

“Deaths and injuries have been reported among civilians and soldiers,” added the Azerbaijani presidency, while the Karabakh public ombudsperson said there were “civilian casualties”. No figures have been put forward, while the Karabakh Defense Ministry said it had inflicted “heavy losses” on the adversary. Azerbaijan previously reported that one of its helicopters had been shot down, but its crew was safe and sound. He claims to have destroyed twelve anti-aircraft batteries.

“Early this morning, the Azerbaijani side launched bombings (…) we call on the population to take shelter,” for his part said the spokesman for the separatist presidency on his Facebook page. Nagorno-Karabakh is a secessionist region of Azerbaijan, populated mainly by Armenians and supported by Armenia.

Thirty years of conflict

It was the scene of a war in the early 1990s that left 30,000 dead, and since then the Azerbaijani authorities have wanted to regain control, by force if necessary. Peace talks have been deadlocked for many years. Fights regularly oppose separatists and Azerbaijanis, but also Yerevan and Baku. In 2016, serious clashes had already almost degenerated into war in Karabakh, and deadly fighting also pitted Armenians and Azerbaijanis on their northern border in July 2020.

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Both sides are used to blaming each other for these outbreaks of violence. President Aliev threatened Armenia with reprisals on Friday because of his “aggressive behavior” and accused Yerevan of “deliberately failing the negotiations” of peace on Karabakh. He estimated that Armenia was preparing “tens of thousands of men” to attack Azerbaijan.

Baku took advantage of its immense oil reserves to spend lavishly on armaments. Azerbaijan can also count on the support of the Turkish president, who sees Armenia as a threat to the stability of the Caucasus. On the other hand, Armenia, much poorer, is closer to Russia, which has a military base there. Yerevan also belongs to a politico-military alliance led by Moscow, the Collective Security Treaty Organization. The Kremlin, which positions itself as a regional arbiter, delivers arms to both countries.

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