On Monday, the people of Azerbaijan and Armenia accused one another of attacks on civilians, saying that the death toll has continued to rise in the area. Though occasional conflict has been known to occur on the outskirts of the South Caucasus region, the current violence is the most deadly it has been in nearly 25 years, reports Reuters. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO chief, called for a ceasefire over the Nagorno-Karabakh mountain area in an effort to halt the fighting that has taken the lives of so many already. Though the area has long been occupied by Armenians, Azerbaijan holds control over it by international law.
Tensions remain high in the area and show no signs of diminishing. Since September 27th, hundreds of individuals have been killed at the hands of artillery, tanks and fighter planes. In Azerbaijan, several Azeri cities near the Nagorno-Karabakh have been affected, causing the fighting to inch closer towards gas and oil lines that connect to various areas of Europe. Azeri President Ilham Aliyev demanded that Armenia withdraw troops, explaining in a public statement that “We don’t have eyes on any other country’s lands, but what is ours should be ours.” The President has also chosen to ignore the demand for ceasefire released by Russia, France, and the United States, explaining, “Turkey must definitely be in any upcoming peace process. A peace process will surely be started. Clashes cannot go on forever, so the sooner the better.” In Armenia, there also seems to be little chance for ceasefire. Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, resorted to Facebook on Monday to urge others to fight: “I want to invite those people and tell them they are… going to fight a war of survival for their fatherland.”
Several other international entities have echoed NATO’s urge for the fighting to stop. Last week the European Union appealed for ceasefire and Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, requested that his foreign minister discuss developments in Nagorno-Karabakh with Canadian allies, reports Reuters. The United States Deputy Secretary of State, Stephen Biegun, also spoke with the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia about ceasefire, hoping that it could be the first step to negotiations between the two states.
The number of individuals lost to the conflict continues to rise with no signs of plateauing any time in the near future. The result is a resounding desire for ceasefire in what seems to be all areas aside from where the fighting is taking place. Nagorno-Karabakh officials estimate that 223 military members and 19 civilians have been killed since the fighting began. As reported by Reuters, the Azeri prosecutor’s office estimates that 25 civilians have been killed and 127 have been wounded. Without a doubt, the toll that the violence has taken on those nearby is incredibly tragic, but the true horror resides in the thought that there is no end in sight. How many will die before local peace is reached? How many will lose their homes? Will be displaced? This remains to be seen.
The fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh area has not been this bad since the 1990s, during which roughly 30,000 people were killed. Though it is unclear what will come from the conflict in the coming months, there is an urgency among the international community to reach a resolution that will protect those living in the area from further disaster and loss.
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