Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to declare ‘humanitarian truce’

Updated 18 Oct 2020

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Ganja (Azerbaijan): Relatives of Royal Sahnazarov, his wife Zuleyha Sahnazarova and their daughter Medine Sahnazorava, who were killed when a rocket hit their home, mourn during their funeral on Saturday. — AFP
Ganja (Azerbaijan): Relatives of Royal Sahnazarov, his wife Zuleyha Sahnazarova and their daughter Medine Sahnazorava, who were killed when a rocket hit their home, mourn during their funeral on Saturday. — AFP

STEPANAKERT: The foreign ministries of Armenia and Azerbaijan have said they will declare a “humanitarian truce” from midnight (2000 GMT, Saturday) after nearly three weeks of fighting over a disputed region.

It will be a second attempt of the warring sides to declare a ceasefire to quell almost three weeks of clashes over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region that have killed hundreds of people.

“The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan have agreed to a humanitarian truce as of October 18, 00h00 local time [2000 GMT],” Armenia’s foreign ministry said late on Saturday.

Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry in an identical statement confirmed the move.

The announcement came after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held phone talks with his counterparts from Armenia and Azerbaijan and highlighted “the need to strictly follow” a ceasefire deal agreed in Moscow last Saturday, according to the foreign ministry.

Announcement came after Russian foreign minister held talks with warring sides

The ministry in Moscow said the two sides also confirmed the importance of beginning “substantive” talks to settle the conflict.

Armenia and Azerbaijan had last Saturday agreed to a ceasefire after 11 hours of talks, mediated by Lavrov in Moscow, but then both also accused each other of violating the deal.

Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region of Azerbaijan mainly inhabited by ethnic Armenians and backed by Yerevan, has been the scene of deadly clashes since September 27.

According to an official, but partial, toll more than 700 people have been killed in the clashes.

The mountainous western region of Azerbaijan has remained under separatist Armenian control since a 1994 ceasefire ended a brutal war that killed 30,000.

Azerbaijan’s statement

Earlier on Saturday, the ministry of foreign affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan issued a statement, condemning the attacks by Armenia.

It said: “On the night of October 17, the armed forces of Armenia attacked the Ganja city of Azerbaijan with ballistic missiles. This, third in a row, atrocious attack on the second biggest city of Azerbaijan, since the new aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, situated far away from the frontline, caused serious civilian casualties; 12 civilians, including two minors killed, more than 40 people injured.

“Armenia’s deliberate and indiscriminate targeting of civilians, in a blatant violation of norms and principles of international law, including international humanitarian law, as well as declared humanitarian ceasefire, the purposeful killing of peaceful people constitute a war crime and a crime against humanity and the leadership of Armenia bears full responsibility for this crime.

“Continuous aggression of Armenia, cruel attacks on the civilians must be stopped and the international community should not turn a blind eye to these inhuman acts by Armenia against the people of Azerbaijan.

“We condemn in the strongest manner vicious attacks by Armenia against the Azerbaijani civilians and urge this aggressor state to stop its war crimes.

The political-military leadership of Armenia, using terror as the state policy, bear responsibility for giving an order on the rocket selling the peaceful population. The Republic of Azerbaijan declares that based on the national and international law mechanisms the perpetrators of this crime will be brought to justice,” the statement added.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2020