Nagorno-Karabakh is about mountains, valleys, gorges and caves, rivers and fruits. And the war. Larvae, frozen, sometimes resuscitated, often ignored, and so for twenty-six years and the ceasefire that saw Azerbaijan lose 13% of its territory, to the benefit of Armenia. It is this forgotten reality that the bombardments on the small town of Martouni were brutally reminded of on Thursday 1er October, in which two journalists from Le Monde, reporter Allan Kaval and photographer Rafael Yaghobzadeh, were seriously injured.
Martouni – about 12,000 inhabitants according to the latest census – is about twenty kilometers from the front line, along which, in several places, the Azerbaijani army launched its so-called offensive of “Reconquest”, September 27. This is where Allan Kaval and Rafael Yaghobzadeh visited, on the morning of Thursday 1er October. They wanted to see for themselves the extent of the damage done in four days, with the two sides ensuring that each other suffered heavy losses in a fog of propaganda.
The two journalists were in the center of Martouni, along with several French, Armenian and other nationalities colleagues, when salutes of Grad rockets fired by Azerbaijani forces fell, hitting them. Joined by The world, Artak Beglaryan, ombudsman (“Defender”) for human rights in Nagorno-Karabakh, reports that four civilians were killed and eleven people injured, in total, in the artillery fire. “It was totally indiscriminate bombing, right in the center”, he said.
“Call for a ceasefire”
Very quickly, in Paris, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs mobilized strongly on the diplomatic and humanitarian level, in particular through the Quai d’Orsay crisis center and the embassies in Yerevan and Baku, to facilitate the evacuation. injuried people. The two journalists were transferred to Stepanakert hospital where they underwent surgery. This Friday morning they were being evacuated to Yerevan and then Paris.
Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke to his Armenian counterpart. The calls for a ceasefire in recent days, launched by the co-chairs of the Minsk Group (United States, Russia, France), had hardly been heard. In a joint declaration – a phenomenon rare enough in these times to be underlined – Presidents Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron condemned Thursday “In the strongest terms the escalation of recent violence on the line of contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.” The three leaders demanded the “Immediate cessation of hostilities” and called on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan “To undertake without delay to resume substantive negotiations, in good faith and without preconditions, under the aegis of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group [Organisation pour la sécurité et la coopération en Europe ]. “
Arrived in the middle of the day in Brussels to participate in the European Council, Emmanuel Macron immediately spoke to the press about the morning bombings. “We called for an unconditional ceasefire, also reminding all those who sometimes push such and such a party to go beyond reason.”, recalled the president, in a thinly veiled reference to Turkey, which supports Azerbaijan militarily and politically. During his trip to Lithuania and Latvia the previous days, Mr. Macron had questioned the bellicose remarks of Turkish officials. This time, on the basis of the data gathered by the Western intelligence services, the French president went on to operationalize.
“We have information today, with certainty, which indicates that Syrian fighters left the theater of operations, fighters of jihadist groups, passing through Gaziantep to reach this theater of operations in Nagorno-Karabakh. This is a very serious, new fact which is also a game-changer “, underlined the French president, reinforced by his repeated criticisms, for months, against the Turkish military adventurism. This manifested itself in Syria, against the Kurdish allies of the Western coalition fighting against the Islamic State (IS) organization, then in Libya.