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World Clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh: is a negotiated solution still possible?

13:25  29 september  2020
13:25  29 september  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

Nagorno-Karabakh dispute: Armenia, Azerbaijan standoff explained

  Nagorno-Karabakh dispute: Armenia, Azerbaijan standoff explained Decades-old tensions erupt again into fighting, prompting fears of a major escalation.Under international law, Nagorno-Karabakh is recognised as part of Azerbaijan. But the ethnic Armenians who make up the vast majority of the population reject Azerbaijani rule. They have been running their own affairs, with support from Armenia, since Azerbaijan’s forces were pushed out in a war in the 1990s.

The 2020 Nagorno - Karabakh conflict is an ongoing armed conflict between the Azerbaijani and Armenian armed forces in Nagorno - Karabakh

Nagorno - Karabakh profile. Russia, which has sold arms to both sides, called for an immediate ceasefire and for both sides to exercise restraint. Azerbaijan said its armed forces had come under fire first from large-calibre artillery and grenade-launchers, and that it had taken over two strategic hills

Des soldats azerbaïdjanais tirent au mortiers sur la ligne de front qui les opposent aux séparatistes arméniens le 27 septembre 2020. © Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry via AP Azerbaijani soldiers fire mortars on the front line opposing them to Armenian separatists on September 27, 2020.

The Security Council is due to meet this Tuesday evening to urgently discuss the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh, after two days of clashes. A provisional assessment reported Monday evening of 95 dead, including eleven civilians. These are the deadliest clashes since 2016 between Azerbaijani forces and Armenian separatists. Nothing seems to be able to stop them at the moment.

From our correspondent in Moscow,

Can we still avoid war? That’s the big question today. Given the scale of the clashes, the already very high death toll, one wonders whether it will be possible to reach a ceasefire, as in 2016 when the fighting ended after a few days. Several elements are very worrying in this regard because the military means deployed since Sunday are much greater than in 2016. Another difference, the clashes at different points of the contact line are much less local than four years ago. Finally, the war rhetoric and the patriotic fever which manifested itself in Armenia as in Azerbaijan are an element which can hamper the peace efforts. It will be necessary to act very quickly, and with very significant means of persuasion, to force the belligerents to discuss and to sit down at the negotiating table.

Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenia declares a state of war

 Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenia declares a state of war © dpa According to the Ministry, the still image from the film material published by the Armenian Ministry of Defense shows how Armenian armed forces destroy an Azerbaijani tank on the contact line of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in Azerbaijan. In the unrest region Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus, several people were injured and killed in an extraordinary escalation of violence between the warring neighbors Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The UN chief is “extremely concerned” over renewed hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Nagorno - Karabakh conflict zone that erupted Mr. Dujarric underscored that the Secretary-General reiterated his “full support” for the important role of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in

Fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over a disputed region of Nagorno - Karabakh continued. On September 27, Baku said that Armenia had shelled the Azerbaijani army’s positions and Yerevan, in turn, claimed that Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces had launched an offensive towards

►Also read: Nagorno-Karabakh, the unrecognized powder keg of the Caucasus

Russia as a mediator?

A meeting of the UN Security Council is to be held this Tuesday evening, but what will also be decisive, is the role of Russia. She is eagerly awaited on this issue because she was the one who negotiated the previous ceasefires, in 1994 and 2016. Russia is undoubtedly the country best placed today to force the parties to the conflict to talking to each other, she is a very close ally of Armenia, but despite everything she maintains good relations with the authorities of Azerbaijan.

Historically, Russia has exercised major political, economic and diplomatic influence over the region. Finally, and arguably crucial, Moscow does not have much to gain in this story, and much to lose in a major conflict. Linked to Armenia by a political and military alliance, it could even find itself drawn directly into the conflict, should Azerbaijani forces invade Armenian territory. The problem for Russia today is the Turkish question and the very warlike attitude of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who seems to be inciting Azerbaijan to war. This element considerably complicates the situation for Moscow because Russia and Turkey are already opposed on two external grounds, by interposed allies: Syria and Libya.

Nagorno-Karabakh: Historical grievances with dangerous potential

  Nagorno-Karabakh: Historical grievances with dangerous potential Much will depend on how Russia and Turkey act as Armenia and Azerbaijan renew conflict, say analysts.But for three decades and against all odds, cash-strapped Armenia defended its unrecognised satellite, Nagorno-Karabakh, a South Caucasus territory north of Turkey and Iran. Dominated by ethnic Armenians, it violently broke away from Azerbaijan after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Nagorno - Karabakh said 53 of its soldiers had been killed in fighting with Azeri forces. It also said it had recovered some lost territory on Sunday, but its leader The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has condemned Armenia’s “aggression” against Azerbaijan and called for a political solution to the

Nagorno - Karabakh Ministry of Defense Says 26 of Its Servicemen Killed in Fighting on Monday. "The only way to resolve the differences in Nagorno - Karabakh is through negotiations and Kremlin Calls For Immediate Ceasefire in Nagorno - Karabakh Amid Clashes Between Armenia, Azerbaijan.

A "frozen conflict"

Historical reminder necessary, Nagorno-Karabakh is a territory of the Caucasus which was historically predominantly populated by Armenians, but which Stalin in the 1920s decided to reunite with Azerbaijan. This is the source of the conflict which left 30,000 dead in the early 1990s when the breakup of the USSR Nagorno-Karabakh proclaimed its independence. Since this war, which was won by the Armenians, Azerbaijan has demanded the return of this territory - and it should be noted that no country in the world has yet recognized the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. We are therefore in a situation of "frozen conflict" typical of the former USSR with this small territory supported by Armenia, and threatened at regular intervals by Azerbaijan.

In July there were border incidents between Armenia and Azerbaijan, presumably heralds of these clashes. From an Azerbaijani perspective, there is the disappointment that followed the coming to power of Nikol Pashinian . Rightly or wrongly, it was believed in Baku that this new leader resulting from a popular revolution in 2018 was going to make progress in the peace process, but nothing has happened. On the contrary, say the Azerbaijani leaders, Nikol Pashinyan himself has fueled the fire by visiting Nagorno-Karabakh on several occasions and making statements considered to be very harsh on the issue. From the Armenian point of view, on the contrary, the first point is the very significant military spending in Azerbaijan, a country rich in hydrocarbons. Expenses that would prompt him today to find a military solution, rather than a negotiated one.

Fears of 'Large-Scale War' after Dozens More Reported Killed In Nagorno-Karabakh Clashes

  Fears of 'Large-Scale War' after Dozens More Reported Killed In Nagorno-Karabakh Clashes Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused the other of launching attacks outside the contested region over which 30,000 people were killed in conflict in the 1990s.The South Caucasus neighbors have accused the other of launching attacks outside of Nagorno-Karabakh, a contested enclave within Azerbaijan but with a predominantly Armenian population, which has been the scene of bloody conflict and a tense ceasefire since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Clashes between the two countries erupted on Sunday, with both Yerevan and Baku accusing each other of It is necessary to be as cautious as possible in order to immediately achieve a ceasefire and get back to the negotiating table", Deputy Nagorno - Karabakh , an Armenian-majority autonomy

Armenian separatists seized Nagorno - Karabakh from Azerbaijan in a bloody war in the 1990s that killed an estimated 30,000 people. International Committee of the Red Cross worried about humanitarian consequences of latest border clashes in ongoing conflict.

Turkey's role singled out

Turkey is Azerbaijan’s traditional ally, and of course Armenia’s staunch opponent. Turkey has made many declarations of support, and even encouragement, for Azerbaijan - some observers believe that, with this support, Baku has decided to embark on this military adventure. This remains to be confirmed, but what is certain is that since Sunday Turkey has been the only country, the only regional power, which does not really call for appeasement.

Some observers therefore believe that Recep Tayyip Erdogan's current strategy, which consists of involving his country in external conflicts, as in Syria or Libya, has led him to incite his ally from the Caucasus to launch an offensive. This is one explanation among others - and which would undoubtedly be vehemently refuted in Baku -, the Azerbaijani authorities explaining that it is the Nagorno-Karabakh separatists and their Armenian ally who are at the origin of this new confrontation.

Food, flags and prayers: in Yerevan, help is organized for Karabakh .
© - Volunteers organize in Yerevan, on October 4, 2020 a food drive that will be sent to the inhabitants of Nagorno Karabakh Between two terraces in Yerevan, volunteers carefully pack cans and blankets under a Nagorno-Karabakh flag. Aid for refugees flocking from this warring region.

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