More dead in Azerbaijan-Armenia dispute in Nagorno-Karabakh

(To Antonino Lombardi)

Five are the latest victims of a firefight that took place on Sunday in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, two Azerbaijani soldiers and three Armenian officers. At around 10:00, a group of Azerbaijani military crossed the line of contact and attacked a vehicle of the Passport and Visa Department of the Republic of Artsakh Police. As a result of this attack, three police officers were killed and one more was injured.

The Azerbaijanis report that for some time now they have been receiving information about the transportation of weapons and ammunition from the territory of Armenia to the Karabakh region through secondary roads bypassing the main Lachin-Khankendi road.

The day before yesterday, in order to verify the information received, units of the Azerbaijani army would have tried to stop and inspect a vehicle suspected of illegally transporting weapons and ammunition but shots would have started from the car which resulted in a shooting with casualties on both sides.

Already between 2 and 3 March, according to the Ministry of Defense of Nagorno-Karabakh, units of the Azerbaijani armed forces deployed in the territories controlled by Baku in the districts of Askeran, Martakert and Martun violated the ceasefire with the use of light weapons. The violation was also confirmed by the command of the Russian peacekeepers stationed in the area.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) has stated that “a preliminary analysis of the circumstances of the killing of police officers allows to consider the actions of the Azerbaijani side as a war crime.”1 Again the same minister considers yesterday's episode a violation of the law Trilateral declaration of 9 November 2020 as well as the violation of the ceasefire.

The dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan was rekindled last September when they died in two days of fighting 155 soldiers of both parties.

The ceasefire declaration came following two days of heavy fighting that marked the biggest outbreak of hostilities between the two adversaries in nearly two years. Armenia and Azerbaijan have exchanged blame for the bombing, with Armenian authorities accusing Baku of unprovoked aggression and Azerbaijani officials saying their country is responding to Armenian attacks.

The two former Soviet republics have been locked in a decades-long conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh which formally part of Azerbaijan was under the control of Armenian-backed forces since a war ended in 1994. During a six-week conflict in 2020 , Azerbaijan has reclaimed large swathes of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent territories held by Armenian forces. Officially more than 6700 people died in the fighting (but there are good reasons to believe that the real number is much greater, ed) which ended with a trilateral agreement for the cessation of hostilities mediated by Russia.

Since mid-December, an Azerbaijani "environmental" activist group has blocked the only road linking Karabakh to Armenia, the corridor of Lachin. The International Court of Justice in late February ordered Azerbaijan to remove the roadblock from the only road between Armenia and the Armenian-majority Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan which has further fueled tensions between the two countries. The sentence is legally binding and the President of the International Court of Justice, Joan Donoghue, said the evidence presented by Armenia established that the blockade “prevented the transfer of people of Armenian national and ethnic origin hospitalized in Nagorno-Karabakh to medical facilities in Armenia for urgent medical treatment.”2 The blockade of the road has also cut off supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh "essential goods, causing shortages of food, medicines and other life-saving medical supplies." The court ordered Azerbaijan to "to take all measures at its disposal to ensure the free movement of people, vehicles and goods along the Lachin Corridor in both directions". He also rejected Armenia's request to order Azerbaijan not to block gas supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Council of Europe, following a letter from the Foreign Minister of Armenia requesting the deployment of a civilian CSDP mission, on 23-23 January 2023 adopted a decision establishing theEUMA, i.e. a neutral and non-executive mission.

The mission objective is help ensure stability in Armenia's border areas, build human confidence and security in conflict areas and ensure an enabling environment for EU-supported normalization efforts between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The operational command of the mission will be in Yeghegnadzor, in the Armenian province of Vayots Dzor.


2 hosted.ap.otg

Photo: web