French peace call to Armenian and Azeri leaders falls on deaf ears

Published October 3, 2020
Women carrying their belongings walk away from an apartment building that was supposedly damaged by recent shelling in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region's main city of Stepanakert on October 3, during the ongoing fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region. — AFP
Women carrying their belongings walk away from an apartment building that was supposedly damaged by recent shelling in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region's main city of Stepanakert on October 3, during the ongoing fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region. — AFP
In this handout photo taken from video released by Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry on Saturday, an Azerbaijan army's multiple rocket launcher fires during fighting with forces of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan. — Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry via AP
In this handout photo taken from video released by Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry on Saturday, an Azerbaijan army's multiple rocket launcher fires during fighting with forces of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan. — Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry via AP

Armenia said on Saturday it would use “all necessary means” to protect ethnic Armenians from attack by Azerbaijan, as the opposing sides pounded each other for a seventh day and the latest international peace call fell on deaf ears.

Azerbaijan said Armenia bore full responsibility for the new outbreak of the decades-old conflict, which threatens to drag in regional powers such as Russia and Turkey.

The death toll rose to at least 230 in the fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan that broke away from its control in the 1990s.

A day after French President Emmanuel Macron phoned Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev with a new proposal for mediation, the rhetoric on both sides appeared if anything to be hardening.

Also read: Turkey rebuffs Russia, France, US over Karabakh truce moves

“The president of Azerbaijan placed the entire responsibility on the leadership of Armenia for the break-off of negotiations and the armed confrontation,” Aliyev's press service said in its summary of the call.

Armenia's armed forces have so far held back from entering the war alongside those of Nagorno-Karabakh. But Pashinyan, in a televised address, portrayed the conflict as a national struggle and compared it to the country's war with Ottoman Turkey in the early 20th century.

“This is a new Sardarapat, and each of us should be ready to dedicate himself to one aim, the name of which is victory,” he said.

The Armenian foreign ministry said Armenia, as the guarantor of Nagorno-Karabakh's security, would take “all the necessary means and steps” to prevent what it called “mass atrocities” by the forces of Azerbaijan and its ally Turkey.

Both those countries have repeatedly denied the involvement of Turkish forces, as well as assertions by Armenia, Russia and France that Syrian rebels are fighting on the Azeri side.

Azerbaijan hit back, saying ethnic Armenians from Syria, Lebanon, Russia, Georgia, Greece and the United Arab Emirates had been deployed or were on their way to operate as “foreign terrorist fighters” on the ethnic Armenian side.

Armenia says it was Azerbaijan that reopened the conflict by launching a major offensive on September 27, while Baku says it was forced to respond to provocations by the other side.

While Russia, the United States and France have called for an end to hostilities, Turkey has staunchly supported the Azeris and has repeated that what it calls Armenian “occupiers” must withdraw, rejecting “superficial” demands for a ceasefire.

The clashes are the worst since the 1990s, when some 30,000 people were killed. They have raised international concern about stability in the South Caucasus, where pipelines carry Azeri oil and gas to world markets.

Opinion

Pak-Saudi relations
Updated 17 May 2021

Pak-Saudi relations

Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, will be key to Pakistan’s economic recovery in a post-Covid context.
Cuisine and culture
17 May 2021

Cuisine and culture

There is a drive towards the creation of a ‘national cuisine’ landscape as well as greater insight into region-based diversity.
Cooperation or conflict?
Updated 17 May 2021

Cooperation or conflict?

The fear of an economic and technological rival has created insecurities being reflected today in US behaviour.

Editorial

Palestine bloodbath
Updated 17 May 2021

Palestine bloodbath

One wonders whether the right of self-defence allows a country to butcher toddlers and the disabled, as Tel Aviv has done in Gaza.
17 May 2021

Registering madressahs

DURING the past two decades, several attempts by successive governments to standardise and regularise madressahs ...
17 May 2021

LSM growth

THE robust growth in large-scale industrial output since July last year has generated a kind of economic optimism...
16 May 2021

Riyadh-Tehran thaw

SEVERAL official pronouncements over the last few days have confirmed that efforts are underway behind the scenes to...
16 May 2021

Ruthless evictions

FOR a state to deprive residents of their homes without providing for alternative housing for them is a dereliction...
16 May 2021

Wheat concerns

THE new official projections for provisional wheat output suggest that Punjab may harvest around 20.5m tonnes of...