The governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia have approved a new temporary ceasefire agreement beginning on Saturday amid heightened tensions following weeks of shelling and bombing of civilians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Aljazeera reports.
“This decision was taken following the statement of the presidents of the French Republic, the Russian Federation and the United States of America, representing the co-chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group, of Oct. 1 2020,…and in line with the Moscow Statement of Oct. 10,” Armenia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The OSCE Minsk Group, which is co-chaired by France, the Russian Federation, and the United States, spearheads the OSCE’s efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As the U.S. continues to display a lack of interest in the conflict, the Russian Federation has increased its efforts to reach a ceasefire between the warring parties.
The French government has continued to play a major role in resolving the conflict as it welcomed Armenia and Azerbaijan agreement to a humanitarian ceasefire saying, “This ceasefire must be unconditional and strictly observed by both parties. France will be very attentive to this and will remain committed so that hostilities cease permanently and that credible discussions can quickly begin,” Al Jazeera further reports.
This truce came amid rising tensions between the two countries that saw 13 Azerbaijani civilians killed in a missile attack on its second-biggest city, Ganja. Armenia has denied any involvement in the missile attack that left people wounded and homes destroyed, Al Jazeera reports.
More than 532 servicemen had been reported killed since fighting flared on September 27 in the Nagorno-Karabakh region between Armenia and Azerbaijan, The Guardian reports. Clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have displaced half of the population of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“According to our preliminary estimates, some 50 percent of Karabakh’s population and 90 percent of women and children – or some 70,000-75,000 people – have been displaced,” Karabakh’s rights ombudsman Artak Beglaryan said, as per Associated Press.
The international community has exposed Turkey’s increasing involvement in the current conflict as a major instigator of tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has, so far, offered unlimited support to his Azeri allies against Armenia, The Guardian further affirms. Turkey shares ethnic and cultural relations with Azerbaijan, and Turkish officials have been very vocal in their support for Azerbaijan.
According to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) of which Armenia is a part of, aggression against one CSTO member is perceived as aggression against all. Therefore, Russia, who is also a signatory to this treaty, has an obligation to help if Azerbaijan attacks Armenia. Commenting on this, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated, “As you know, Armenia is a member of the CSTO, and we have certain obligations to Armenia under this agreement.” He further added, “To our great regret, the fighting is still going on, but it is not being conducted on the territory of Armenia.”
Iran has also warned that a regional war is not acceptable. “We must be careful that this war does not turn into a regional war,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. ” Those who pour gasoline on this war should pay attention that its continuation is not in the interest of any country, and this war must end through political ways.” MSN further reports, Rouhani warned, “Iran will not allow anyone to bring terrorists, whom we have fought for many years in Syria, to our border points under any pretext.”
As the U.S. continues to show a lack of interest, celebrities like Kim Kardashian – who is of Armenian descent – has continued to lend her voice to a global call for ceasefire. Al Jazeera reports that Kim Kardashian donated $1 million in support of humanitarian efforts underway in Armenia. More than 100,000 Americans of Armenian descent have protested in Los Angeles.
The Nagorno-Karabakh region broke away from Azerbaijan in the early 1990s in a war that claimed the lives of some 30,000 people. However, although it remains unrecognized by any state since the international community regards it as part of Azerbaijan.