Moscow tears off a ceasefire as fragile as it is vague in Nagorno-Karabakh


Moscow tears off a ceasefire as fragile as it is vague in Nagorno-Karabakh

Just a respite, but no ceasefire. The truce, announced Saturday, October 10 in Moscow, between Armenia and Azerbaijan is far from having put an end to the fighting in the mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a separatist enclave in Azerbaijan populated overwhelmingly by Armenians. Azerbaijan has reported seven civilians killed and 33 wounded in the bombing – in the night from Saturday to Sunday – of the country’s second city, Gandja, about sixty kilometers from the front. While denying to be responsible, the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh indicated that the Azerbaijani army had struck in the night “Stepanakert, Hadrout, Martouni and other populated areas”. “A total lack of respect for the Moscow agreement” and “An aggression against the civilian population”, they denounced.

The agreement signed in Moscow was torn between the belligerents ” for humanitarian purposes “, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who orchestrated the marathon negotiations (more than ten hours) between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan. According to the head of Russian diplomacy, the ceasefire would allow “To exchange prisoners of war, other people and the bodies of those killed with the mediation and in accordance with the criteria of the Committee of the Red Cross. However, the “Specific parameters” of the implementation of the agreement were to be defined later. “As long as the shooting continues, there will be no exchange of prisoners”, warned Sunday Araïk Haroutiounian, president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh in Armenian).

According to Sergey Lavrov, the two neighboring countries, Armenia and Azerbaijan, are committed to the Kremlin “To substantial negotiations to quickly reach a peaceful settlement” conflict, with the mediation of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk group – Russia, but also the United States and France – the main international mediator in this conflict for a quarter of a century. The contours of these future negotiations remain extremely vague, each one camped so far on positions which are at the origin of the rise of tensions in the region, self-proclaimed as an autonomous republic during a war which had made more than 30,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of refugees in the early 1990s.

If, before the start of the talks, the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian only said that he was ready “For the resumption of the peace process”, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev spoke in a televised speech in which he claimed to give a ” last chance “ in Yerevan to settle the conflict peacefully by withdrawing its troops. “We will return to our land anyway”, he added, already announcing the capture of a city, Hadrout, in the south of the separatist enclave, and that of eight surrounding villages. Information denied by the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh.

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