Nagorno Karabakh: international calls for calm grow
Today the United Nations Security Council intends to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within a closed session. Aljazeera reports in its article Nagorno-Karabakh battles continue as calls for calm grow that the clashes prompted a flurry of diplomacy to reduce tension in a decades-old conflict amid fears the violence could spiral out of control.
“We are a step away from a large-scale war,” Olesya Vartanyan of the International Crisis Group told AFP. “One of the main reasons for the current escalation is a lack of any proactive international mediation between the sides for weeks,” she added. “We’re looking at it very strongly,” he told a news briefing. “We have a lot of good relationships in that area. We’ll see if we can stop it.”
The US State Department condemned the violence in a statement, calling for an immediate halt to hostilities and any rhetoric or other actions that could make the situation worse. US Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement that hostilities could escalate into a wider conflict and urged the Trump administration to push for more observers along the ceasefire line and for Russia “to stop cynically providing arms to both sides”.
Turkey, an Azerbaijan ally, said it was talking to members of the so-called Minsk Group, which mediates between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russia, France and the US are co-presidents. Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone to Pashinyan but no details of the conversation were available, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Aliyev. Erdogan, promising support for Azerbaijan, said Armenia was “the biggest threat to peace in the region” and called on “the entire world to stand with Azerbaijan in their battle against invasion and cruelty”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “extremely concerned” and called on the sides to stop fighting and return to talks. The European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Pope Francis also urged both sides to stop military actions and return to negotiations. At least 200 people were killed in a flare-up of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in April 2016. At least 16 people were killed in clashes in July. Azerbaijan has pledged to take back the territory, by force if necessary, while Armenia has said it will do all it can to defend the area.