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2016 Nagorno-Karabakh clashes

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The Four Day War[a] or April War,[b] began along the Nagorno-Karabakh line of contact on 1 April 2016 with the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army, backed by the Armenian Armed Forces, on one side and the Azerbaijani Armed Forces on the other. The clashes occurred in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, with Azerbaijani forces seeking to regain territory controlled by the Armenia-backed unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR). The clashes have been defined as "the worst" since the 1994 ceasefire.[26]

A ceasefire was reached on 5 April, however, both sides accused each other of violations. Azerbaijan claimed to have regained 2,000 hectares of land,[2] while Armenian officials suggested a loss of 800 hectares of land of no strategic importance.[1]

The US State Department estimated that a total of 350 people—military and civilian—died.[27] Official sources of the warring parties put those estimates either much higher or much lower, depending on the source.

Background

The Nagorno-Karabakh War ended with a ceasefire agreement between the warring parties that came into effect on 12 May 1994. However, since then Azerbaijan and Armenia have reported over 7,000 breaches of the ceasefire;[28][29] more than 100 breaches of the ceasefire and 12 Azerbaijani soldiers had been killed in 2015 alone.[21] The April 2016 clashes have been the most serious breach of the 1994 ceasefire to date.[30]

Among the possible reasons behind the conflict escalation, Azerbaijan's worsening economy (due to the collapse of oil prices in 2015–16) has been frequently cited, with clashes being used as a way to distract the Azerbaijani population from rising prices and unemployment.[21][31] Alternatively, some Armenian sources blame Turkey for provoking violence,[31] while some Turkish commentators have suggested a Russian strategy to destabilize the region.[21]

Clashes

Each side blamed the other for the outbreak of clashes around Aghdara, Tartar, Agdam, Khojavend, and Fuzuli.[32] According to Armenian sources, on the night of 1 April and early morning of 2 April, the Azerbaijani side launched large-scale attacks along the contact line between Karabakh and Azerbaijan, on 2 April, a 12-year-old Armenian boy was killed as a result of missile artillery attack from a BM-21 Grad near the border with Martuni.[33] Two other children were wounded as well.[34] According to Azerbaijani sources, on 2 April, Azerbaijani positions and inhabited places near the front line came under fire from Armenian military, armed with mortars and high caliber grenade launchers,[3] that killed and wounded several civilians.[35] According to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense, during a rapid counter-offensive, the Armenian side's front defense line was broken in multiple places and several strategic heights and inhabited places were retaken (including the strategically important hill of Lalatapa).[32][35] An AFP journalist confirmed that the Lalatapa heights were also under Azerbaijani control,[36] the Azerbaijani side claimed that they had captured some areas, including heights near the village of Talysh, as well as the village of Seysulan.[37] However, the Ministry of Defence of Nagorno-Karabakh says this claim is untrue,[38] on 8 May the Armenia's First Channel release footage from military positions near Seysulan.[39] 14,400 people living in villages were affected by clashes, but no internal displacement or immediate humanitarian need was reported.[30] Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan sharply accused Azerbaijan of "launching an unprovoked coordinated ground offensive against Armenia’s forces", saying the Azerbaijani military used warplanes, tanks and artillery to try to make inroads into Nagorno-Karabakh,[3] during the first day of fighting, Armenian forces claimed to have destroyed at least three Azerbaijani tanks, two military helicopters (including an Mi-24G and at least one armed Mil Mi-8/17) and two unmanned drones, photographs and videos of which surfaced on the internet.[40] Armenian frontline positions were reinforced, heavy artillery was brought forward, and in the NKR capital Stepanakert reservists were called up.

On 3 April, Armenian military authorities announced that NKR forces had recaptured positions around Talysh,[41] which the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense claimed was untrue,[42] on 6 April, news footage shown on Armenia's First Channel revealed Armenian journalists and NKR troops freely mingling on the streets of Talysh and Madagiz.[43] On 8 April, news footage shown on Azerbaijani TV channel showed Azerbaijan military placing a new sign at heights near Talysh.[44][45][46] On 11 April, news footage from Armenia's First channel showed Talysh heights under NKR troops control near Tap Qaraqoyunlu.[47] Again on 8 May, news footage from Civilnet showed the journalist Tatul Hakobyan with some NKR soldiers at Talysh heights near Naftalan.[48] Later Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov stated that if shelling of Azerbaijani settlements by Armenian forces did not cease, Azerbaijan could consider launching artillery attacks on Stepanakert,[49] on the same day, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense announced a unilateral end to hostilities. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense stated that should Armenian shelling pursue, Azerbaijan will continue its offensive.[50]

On 4 April, Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense reported that an Armenian command and control center had been destroyed and released a video capturing the attack, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense claimed that along with numerous military personnel, two high-ranking Armenian officers were killed as a result.[51] The three deceased[citation needed] Armenian lieutenant colonel, identified as Roman V. Poghosyan, Alexan G. Arakelyan, and Gregorian K. Onik, along with one unidentified colonel.[citation needed] The same day, the Armenian defense ministry announced that an Azerbaijani drone, identified as an Israeli-made IAI Harop, attacked a bus carrying Armenian volunteers enlisting in military service to the Nagorno-Karabakh town of Martakert by slamming itself against it, killing seven people aboard including the heads of two rural communities within the NKR. It is believed to be the first ever combat use of the drone anywhere.[52][53] An Israeli-made ThunderB surveillance drone was shot down on 2 April according to the NK defense force.[54] Armenian officials later protested Israel's supply of weaponry to Azerbaijan,[55][56] some Azerbaijani sources claimed that Mataghis was under Azerbaijani control, citing Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense [57] but Armenian side says this is not true because they repelled an Azerbaijani offensive allegedly backed by Turkey.[58] Later Armenian side published video to prove that Mataghis remain in their control.[59][60]

On 5 April, Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense announced that the mutual ceasefire agreement was breached by Armenian forces which shelled Azerbaijani positions near Tap Qaraqoyunlu with 60, 82 and 120 mm mortars.[61]

According to Azerbaijani claims Armenian Armed Forces directed high caliber artillery fire at a mosque (in Əhmədağalı, one civilian dead),[62] schools (in Seydimli, one schoolboy injured)[63] and residential buildings as well as civilian infrastructure.[64][65] Damage to houses in Azerbaijan by Armenian artillery fire was reported in the Russian press.[66] According to Azerbaijani claims on 7 April,[67] Armenian armed forces shelled an ambulance evacuating injured Azerbaijani civilians,[68] the Ministry of Defence of Nagorno-Karabakh published some aerial photos to prove that Azerbaijan deploys military units near populated areas and violated the Article 52 of Geneva Convention.[69] During a BBC visit to Azerbaijan's side of frontline, a team of BBC journalists asked to see and ensure where the alleged military objects are placed but the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry refused for "safety reasons",[70][71] on 8 April, artillery fire was exchanged between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces, with the Armenians reporting two soldiers killed.[72] A temporary ceasefire agreement mediated by the International Committee of the Red Cross and field assistants of the OSCE, allowed for both sides to collect dead and missing soldiers.[73][74] On 14 April, the Azerbaijani government reported that one of its soldiers had been killed by Armenian forces on the line of contact,[75] on 15 April, Nagorno-Karabakh reported one of its soldiers had been killed in action with Azerbaijani forces.[76] A soldier of the Nagorno Karabakh military was reported killed in action with Azerbaijani forces on 19 April.[77] Further skirmishes occurred on 21 April, killing another Nagorno-Karabakh soldier.[78]

In the course of the clashes, mortar shells fired from the conflict area hit a village in the northwestern Iranian province of East Azerbaijan, but no casualties or damages were reported.[79]

Claims of atrocities and usage of prohibited munitions

According to Armenian officials, residents of Talysh and Madagiz had been evacuated and provided with shelter in other parts of the region.[80] Armenian and international reporters announced that after Talysh was retaken by Armenian troops, an elderly Armenian couple had been found shot in their home and their corpses had been mutilated. According to these reports, Azerbaijani soldiers also killed another elderly woman.[81][82][83][84][85] Photographs of corpses with ears cut off revived memories of the atrocities of the 1988–1994 war observed a Le Monde reporter.[86] According to the Russia's leading human rights lawyer,[87] the head of the International Protection Centre Karinna Moskalenko, complaints about these facts of violence against the civilian population are already prepared to be sent to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).[88] Azerbaijan's Ministry of Defense denied these reports.[89][90]

On 4 April, it was reported that Azerbaijani forces decapitated the body of a Yazidi-Armenian soldier, Kyaram Sloyan, who had been killed in action,[91][92][93] with videos and pictures of his severed head posted on social networks.[94][95][96][97] According to The Sunday Times, it included "shocking souvenir photos of uniformed Azerbaijani soldiers posing with the severed head".[93] Azerbaijani sources rejected this claim as false,[98] on 3 May Azerbaijani Defense Ministry denied this information and claimed that all the bodies of the Armenian soldiers were handed over in the presence of international observers, and no traces of violence were detected on the bodies.[99] Sloyan's body was buried without its head on 5 April 2016, in his native village of Artashavan, on 8 April, through the mediation of the Red Cross, the Azerbaijani side returned Sloyan's head.[100] Sloyan was interred for a second time the following day, to lay his head with his body.[100][101][102][103] According to Regnum News Agency and KavNews Russian agency, during his visit to Terter, Agdam and Barda districts, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev awarded the Azerbaijani soldier who had posed with the severed head of Sloyan.[104] Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan condemned the encouragement of the Azerbaijani serviceman who was depicted on another photo where the mutilated head of Sloyan was manifestly shown.[105]

On 8 April, Artak Beglaryan, a spokesperson for the NKR Prime Minister, posted a photo on his Twitter account showing the beheaded corpse of an Armenian soldier, he called the beheading in a Tweet a "barbaric act & Daesh/ISIS style war crime."[106] According to the public report of the Human Right's defender (ombudsman) of NKR, "the facts of beheading Hayk Toroyan, Kyaram Sloyan, and Hrant Gharibyan by the Azerbaijani troops, as well as the torturing and mutilation of 18 NKR army members constitute grave breaches of customary international law".[107] Azerbaijan's Ministry of Defense denied these reports.[108]

Relatives of three Armenian soldiers killed and beheaded during the escalation filed a complaint against Azerbaijan to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the plaintiffs demand to recognize the case of inhuman treatment with regard to the bodies, lack of respect for their privacy, and discrimination based on nationality.[109]

In April 2016 the European Ombudsman Institute (EOI) issued a statement that condemns any violation of human rights regarding civilians and attacks on civilian objects in Nagorno-Karabakh. According to EOI, "civilian citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh were inhumanly treated without any respect and by that offended in their dignity". "We are concerned by the information received, that peaceful civilians were killed in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlements through partly cruel and inhuman methods of execution. All these operations constitute gross violations of human rights; they are opposed to European human rights and human values; they significantly endanger the European system for the protection and promotion of human rights".[110]

Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have stated their intentions to report the beheadings and other human rights violations allegedly conducted by Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. The co-rapporteurs said: "We are going to submit a report to the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights on the fact of murdering and beheading of a conscript, and then publicizing it."[111][112]

HALO Trust reported that Azerbaijan had dropped rocket-dispensed cluster bombs around civilian settlements in NKR.[113]

On 17 May 2016 Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that on 11 May the Armenian military had used 122-mm calibre white phosphorus munitions prohibited by the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons against Azerbaijani civilians and civilian objects.[114] On 11 May military attaches from 13 countries reviewed the territory in the Askipara village where the white phosphorus munition had been fired,[115] the usage of phosphorus munition by the Armenian military was also reported by Al Jazeera.[116] Azerbaijani Military Prosecutor's Office initiated a criminal case upon the finding,[114] however NKR foreign ministry and Armenia defense ministry says this is a falsification and distortion of the reality.[117][118][119]

Transfer of bodies

On 10 April, the State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic said that of the 18 bodies of Armenian soldiers transferred that same day by Azerbaijan, all showed signs of torture or mutilation.[citation needed] The Commission called these acts "a flagrant manifestation of inhumanity, run counter to the laws and customs of war and are in grave violation of the international humanitarian law", adding that the Karabakh side will ensure that "such behavior of the Azerbaijani side is condemned in strongest terms by the international community and the specialized agencies".[120][121] Azerbaijan's Ministry of Defense denied the accusations and claimed that the transferred bodies of Azerbaijani servicemen had been mutilated by the Armenian side,[122] the NKR State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons called this claim by Azerbaijan a cynical attempt to mislead the international community, observing that before the start of the exchange procedure, all the bodies of the dead soldiers had been examined in the presence of representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and no traces of abuse or ill-treatment had been discovered or registered on Azerbaijani soldiers.[123]

Aftermath

Casualty estimates

According to the US State Department, Azerbaijan "took a huge number of casualties, including comparatively", although the number was not specified. Overall, a senior member of the US State Department estimated 350 casualties on both sides, including civilians.[27] According to the Russian analytical center Ostkraft the Azerbaijan army stopped its offensive against Karabakh because 800 Azerbaijani soldiers died during the clashes.[124][125]

Official estimates of the warring parties are far apart from each other. According to official statements of the involved sides, 90 Armenian[4][5][6] and 31 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed during the clashes,[12] and several pieces of military equipment from both sides were destroyed. Also according to official statements, ten civilians (6 Azerbaijani and 4 Armenian) were killed in the conflict.[4][13]

Various non-official Azerbaijani sources, per research of social networks, put the actual number of Azerbaijani soldiers killed at 94, while two remain missing.[12][126]

According to Christoph Bierwirth, UNHCR representative in Armenia, more than 2,000 people left Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia amid the clashes.[127]

Analysis

In the aftermath, there was no conclusive assessment on the outcome of the clashes.[128] Neil Melvin, director of the armed conflict and conflict management programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, stated that "Azerbaijan suffered heavy losses for relatively minor territorial gains, this is nonetheless seen as a victory, after 25 years of a sense of having been defeated".[129]

Several analysts noted that the clashes did not result in significant changes.[130] Matthew Bodner wrote in The Moscow Times on 6 April that "the previous status quo has been more-or-less preserved."[131] Independent Armenian journalist Tatul Hakobyan, who visited the fighting scene during the clashes, remarked that the death of scores of soldiers of both sides was "senseless" as no real change occurred, he stated: "Azerbaijan did not win and Armenia did not lose."[132] Russian military expert Vladimir Yevseyev said that the Azerbaijani offensive, despite initial victory, was not a success because the Azerbaijani side has numerous killed soldiers and destroyed tanks.[133]

The International Crisis Group assessment stated that Azerbaijan gained "small but strategically important pieces of land".[134] Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer believes that Azerbaijan "won the first round of fighting".[135] Former minister of defense of Nagorno-Karabakh Samvel Babayan stated that the territories gained by Azerbaijan have strategic importance, and they were lost by Armenians within one hour.[136] Karabakh and Armenia government rejected his criticism.[137]

Chatham House fellow, Zaur Shiriyev, suggested that Azerbaijan prompted a "carefully controlled escalation [that] served to raise international awareness of the fragility of a status quo which Azerbaijan regards as unfavourable, in order to galvanize the international mediators and put pressure on Yerevan to be constructive at the negotiating table."[138] British journalist Thomas de Waal, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War, does not believe that the Azerbaijani offensive was meant as a full-scale military operation but rather as a limited attempt to bring the conflict back on the international agenda and put Armenia under pressure. He believes that after the April violence, the conflict is unlikely to return to its semi-quiet state and that a new round of fighting would be harder to contain than previous conflicts.[139]

Christine Philippe-Blumauer noted, "Russian official reactions suggest that Russian troops would not actually decide to intervene in favor of the Armenian side, should the conflict scale-up to a fully-fledged war yet again."[140]

Official statements

Armenian

Armenian Defense Ministry Spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan stated that the Azerbaijani attempted to take part of northern Karabakh with a "blitzkrieg", which failed,[141] after a ceasefire was reached NKR Defense Army Colonel Victor Arustamyan said that one military position was left under Azerbaijani control, which was of no strategic significance.[142]

On 24 April President Serzh Sargsyan acknowledged that Azerbaijani troops had taken very small pieces of land in the north and south of the contact line, which he said had no strategic importance for Armenian forces, who had not attempted to reclaim them to avoid additional loss of life,[143] on 17 May Sargsyan stated that the Armenian side had lost control of "800 hectares of land having neither tactical not strategic importance",[1][144][145]

On 26 April 2016 Sargsyan fired 3 senior Armenian army officials, including the chiefs of the Logistics, the Intelligence and the Communications Departments, a move which was apparently influenced by the public criticism of the high death toll among the Armenian soldiers.[146]

President Sargsyan stated that Armenia would formally recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh "if the military operations continue and acquire a large scale."[147] On 5 May 2016 the Government of Armenia approved the bill on recognition of the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (Artsakh), it was announced, that the recognition of the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is "due to the results of discussions between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, [and] considering further developments, including external factors."[148]

Azerbaijani

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev initially claimed the clashes were a "great victory" for Azerbaijan.[149]

Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense claimed that the Azerbaijani armed forces remain in control of strategic heights near the village of Talysh.[150] Responding to Sargsyan's claim on the Armenian troops' loss of 800 ha of territory, Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense stated that the Azerbaijani military took control of 2000 hectares of territory;[151] in the opinion of analyst Rizvan Huseynov, posted at the state oil company owned media CBC, "Nearly 5% of occupied territories returned" (nearly 57 290 hectares of territory)[152]

Azerbaijani opposition websites say Azerbaijan long-serving chief of general staff Najmaddin Sadigov may be replaced over 4-day war by the First Corps Commander and deputy Nizami Osmanov, but this was refuted by the Ministry of Defense spokesman.[153][154]

Military awards

A number of Armenian military servicemen were awarded by orders and medals of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.[155] Junior sergeant Robert Abajyan was posthumously awarded with Hero of Artsakh which is the highest honorary title of NKR, he became the youngest person ever to hold the title at 19 years old.[156]

19 April 2016 Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed orders on awarding honorary titles, orders and medals to a group of Azerbaijani military servicemen.[157] Among them Lieutenant Colonel Shukur Hamidov,[158] Lieutenant Colonel Murad Mirzayev[159] and Major Samid Imanov[160] were awarded with the medal of National Hero of Azerbaijan. Colonel Mais Barkhudarov was awarded with the rank of general-major by the Azerbaijani President because of his personally participation in the military operation over Lalatapa height.[161]

Political harassment

Ali Karimli, the leader of Azerbaijani Popular Front party, who criticized the Azerbaijani government over its actions during the clashes, became a subject of a series of protests (the latest one held on 12 April in front of Karimli’s house), organized by the authorities. The protesters also demanded to exile him from the country. According to the human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev, attacks against Karimli are simply diverting attention from truly important issues and testing technologies to distract people’s justified anger caused by the serious consequences of wrong decisions.[162][163]

Russian TV channel Dozhd reported that the Azerbaijani authorities launched a criminal case against the direction and journalists of the Azerbaijani independent channel Meydan TV because of the publication of the list of Azerbaijani soldiers killed during the clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh. Their list consisted of 94 names, while the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan confirmed only 31 deaths. According to the Meydan TV chief editor Emin Milli, each person on their list really died in the clashes, and he stated that the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan could not deny this information.[164]

International reactions

Supranational bodies

  •  EU – High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini urged the parties "to stop the fighting immediately and observe the ceasefire".[165]
  •  UN – Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanded all sides involved in the conflict to immediately cease all armed hostilities and observe the terms of ceasefire.[166]
  • PACE – President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Pedro Agramunt called on both sides to respect the ceasefire and resume peaceful negotiations. He also called for the withdrawal of all Armenian armed troops from occupied Azerbaijani territories in compliance with the UN Security Council resolutions.[167]
  •  OIC – The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation condemned "the attack by Armenian forces on the borders of occupied Azerbaijani territories" and Yerevan’s "disrespect of the unilateral ceasefire" announced by Baku.[168]
  • CSTO – A spokesman for the head of the CSTO, Nikolay Bordyuzha, stated that the conflict must be settled through negotiations. Bordyuzha added that the Azerbaijani side is "leading to the escalation of the situation and the conflict".[169]

OSCE Minsk Group and co-chair countries

  • OSCE Minsk Group – The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group expressed "grave concern over the reported large-scale ceasefire violations that are taking place along the line of contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone" and strongly condemned "the use of force and regret the senseless loss of life, including civilians".[170] The OSCE Minsk Group scheduled to have a meeting on 5 April in Vienna over the incidents.[171]
  •  United States – The State Department condemned ceasefire violations and urged the sides to "show restraint, avoid further escalation, and strictly adhere to the ceasefire." Their statement continued, "The unstable situation on the ground demonstrates why the sides must enter into an immediate negotiation under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs on a comprehensive settlement of the conflict. We reiterate that there is no military solution to the conflict, as a co-chair country, the United States is firmly committed to working with the sides to reach a lasting and negotiated peace."[172]
  •  Russia – President Vladimir Putin called on both sides to end hostilities and show restraint.[173] On 4 April Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov criticized what he called Turkey's interference into the internal affairs of neighboring nations and called Turkey's strong support for Azerbaijan "one-sided".[174]

Other states

  •  Belarus – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the parties to continue seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict "in accordance with the generally recognized principles and norms of international law, first of all, on the basis of respect and guaranteeing of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders, as well as the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and decisions of the OSCE". The Belarusian ambassador to Armenia was summoned to be informed that Yerevan was "deeply bewildered" by this statement which "does not correspond to the spirit of the Armenian-Belarusian relations" and "is detrimental to the negotiation process".[175][176] Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko insisted that both sides should seek a peaceful dialogue.[177]
  •  Bulgaria – Foreign Ministry of Bulgaria has expressed deep concern about "massive violations of the ceasefire". Bulgaria reiterated its position that the conflict could only be solved through peace talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group.[178]
  •  Canada – Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion called on all sides to show restraint, immediately return to a true ceasefire, and actively resume dialogue within the framework of OSCE Minsk Group. "Canada firmly believes that there is no alternative to a peaceful, negotiated solution to this conflict," Minister Dion said in a statement.[179][180]
  •  Chile – Initially the Chamber of Deputies of Chile issued a resolution passed unanimously that condemned the "armed attack of Azerbaijan against the Nagorno Karabakh Republic". According to the resolution, "on the night of 1 to 2 of last April, ground forces and air of the Republic of Azerbaijan conducted a large-scale attack on the border with the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, with heavy artillery and last generation missiles", the Chamber of Deputies of Chile reaffirmed its commitment to peace and urged the Republic of Azerbaijan for the immediate cessation of all acts of war against the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh and the strict observance of the truce signed by both countries in 1994.[181] However, just two weeks later, the Senate of Chile, followed by the same Chamber of Deputies, adopted resolutions reaffirming Chile's recognition of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, acknowledging the democratic progress in the country and calling on the international community to assist Azerbaijan and Armenia in resolving the conflict on the basis of the UN Security Council resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884.[182][183]
  •  Czech Republic – Foreign Ministry expressed concern over extensive violations of the ceasefire on the line of contact of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and condemned the use of force. It called to involved parties to stop the violence and to strictly respect the truce. Foreign Ministry supported the peaceful efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group.[184]
  •  Cyprus – Foreign Ministry statement accused Azerbaijan of violations of the armistice line and urged Azerbaijan to "respect the status quo ante." It also urged Turkey to "refrain from any activities and statements that further destabilize the unfolding situation."[185]
  •  Georgia – Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili expressed concern over the recent developments in the region and expressed hope that the international community's efforts will help to de-escalate the situation.[186] President Giorgi Margvelashvili called on both neighbors to end fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh region and resolve the conflict peacefully.[187] According to a Russian news website Defense Minister Tinatin Khidasheli reaffirmed Georgia's support of its neighbours territorial integrity In a telephone call with her Azerbaijani counterpart Zakir Hasanov,[188] however no such official statement was made by the Defence Ministry of Georgia.
  •  Germany – Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on both sides to immediately stop fighting and to fully respect the ceasefire.[189]
  •  Greece – The Foreign Ministry expressed concern and called on the two sides to "exercise restraint and composure in order to return, as soon as possible, to the process of dialogue within the framework of the Minsk Group."[190]
  •  Iran – Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari called for both sides to "refrain from any manner or action" which could "worsen the situation." He added that Iran recommends a cessation of hostilities by reaching a peaceful solution within the framework of United Nations regulations, while he further underlined that, as the region has been the scene of "destructive actions" by extremist groups, such clashes arose "severe concerns" for Iran.[191]
  •  Israel – Minister of Defence of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman called upon OSCE Minsk Group to be more objective in resolving this conflict. He also criticized Armenia for fuelling the conflict and described the position of Azerbaijan in the conflict as "balanced" and "absolutely justified".[192][193]
  •  Kazakhstan – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its concern with the recent escalation of violence and called on the parties to abide by the ceasefire agreement.[194] A summit of the Eurasian Economic Union in Yerevan was cancelled after Kazakhstan refused to attend it in an apparent show of support for Azerbaijan.[195]
  •  Kyrgyzstan – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its concern with the worsening situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. It said that it stands for working out constructive proposals on searching for ways of resolving the dispute and that it is ready to mediate the settlement of the conflict.[196]
  •  Latvia – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on both sides to stop the hostilities immediately and resume the ceasefire, expressing regret over casualties and deaths and conveying condolences to the families of those killed.[197]
  •  Norway – Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende called the clashes an "unacceptable military escalation".[198]
  •  Pakistan – Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing concern about the escalation "caused due to the continuous artillery firing by Armenian forces." It added, "Pakistan will continue to promote a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."[199] Secretary to president, Ahmad Farooq, said Pakistan "always stands by Azerbaijan" and that "Azerbaijan is a brotherly and friendly country."[200][better source needed]
  •  Poland – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland called on parties of conflict to cease military operations in region and return to peace talks initiated in 1994. Poland called also to recognize territorial dispute by diplomatic and political negotiations including OSCE Minsk group mediation format.[201]
  •  Romania – Romania urges to resume diplomatic efforts to resolve Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Foreign Ministry of Romania expressed concern over the escalation in Nagorno Karabakh. Romanian Foreign Ministry urged to immediate cessation of hostilities. "Resumption of diplomatic efforts is necessary for peaceful settlement."[202]
  •  Turkey – President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev to pay condolences for the "martyred" soldiers.[203] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement condemning what they claimed was an Armenian attack on civilians and calling on Armenia to comply with the ceasefire,[204] he also announced his country's support to Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh border clashes, saying "Turkey backs the Azerbaijanis 'to the end' against Armenia".[205] Turkey is also trying to get the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to support Azerbaijan.[206]
  •  Ukraine – According to a statement by the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine "Ukraine favors a long-term political solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders".[207] According to the ministry "The current situation eloquently shows that frozen conflicts remain a hotbed of instability across the OSCE space, which could flare up any moment and lead to large-scale hostilities and a great loss of human life".[207] President Petro Poroshenko, in a phone conversation with his Azerbaijani counterpart, said that Ukraine supports Azerbaijan's integrity within internationally recognized borders.[208]
  •  United Kingdom – Minister for Europe David Lidington expressed concern about increased violence and urged both sides "to engage constructively and intensively in the search for a negotiated peaceful settlement through the Minsk Group process."[209]
Partially recognized non-UN member states
Other reactions
  • U.S. Congressmen and co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Robert Dold (R-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Brad Sherman (D-CA) jointly condemning what they described as "Azerbaijan's aggression" and called upon the Obama administration to "hold Ilham Aliyev to account for his unilateral escalation of violence against Nagorno-Karabagh."[215] In a separate statement, Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) called upon Azerbaijan to "reverse its pattern of escalating violence against the peaceful people of Nagorno Karabakh".[216]
  • The Basque Parliament unilaterally adopted a statement, condemning the Azerbaijani attempts to solve the Karabakh conflict in a military way. The statement notes that on 2 April 2016, Azerbaijan unilaterally launched an unprecedented attack on Nagorno Karabakh which has caused dozens of deaths, including four civilians, one of them a child, the Basque Parliament also supports the Minsk Group negotiation process where Nagorno Karabakh must have a place.[217]
  • Selahattin Demirtaş, leader of the left-wing pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), criticised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu for encouraging violence with their support for military actions. He added, "Nagorno-Karabakh was an autonomous region. Armenia and Azerbaijan had to settle the issue around the negotiating table, as war will be of no benefit to either side."[218][219]
  • Parliamentarians of Greek and Latvian Parliaments, Garifalia Kanelli and Sergejs Potapkins respectively, visited the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh after the clashes. According to Potapkins, it is inadmissible, when the peaceful population suffers from the military aggression, the re-establishment of peace is a prior problem, the escalations of the conflict don’t promote the establishment and maintenance of peace.[220]
  • A large number of French parliamentarians, senators and mayors in a joint statement announced that the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh should be readmitted to the negotiating table. According to them, "encouraged by international indifference, Azerbaijan under the rule of Ilham Aliyev attempted to regain by force its former colony, the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh", deliberately targeting cities, killing children in the courtyard of their schools, and maiming civilians.[221]
  • On 12 April 21 French parliamentarians and senators signed a joint statement: "While the cease-fire obtained by the Minsk Group has already been undermined by the Azerbaijani side, the French authorities must point out that any continuation of the fighting will lead to unilateral recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic".[222]
  • 30 French Parliamentarians have appealed the French government to recognize the Republic of Karabakh.[223] French conservative Senator Valérie Boyer accused Azerbaijan for the violence and expressed solidarity with the Armenian people and Nagorno-Karabakh,[224] she also called for the official recognition of the NKR by France.[225]
  • Frank Engel, a Member of the European Parliament and Honorary Consul of Armenia in Luxembourg, called for the recognition of Artsakh's independence, to avoid repletion of the Armenian Genocide. He accused Azerbaijan for aggression in Karabakh earlier in April, which showed that some people living on the Caspian Sea shore dream of a new genocide in Nagorno Karabakh.[226]
  • U.S. Congressmen David Cicilline (D-RI), James Langevin (D-RI), Jack Reed (D-RI) condemned the Azerbaijani military operation against Karabakh in three separate statements. In his statement, Reed said: "These attacks on the Armenian people are completely unacceptable and call into question the sincerity with which Azerbaijan has approached recent peace negotiations." While Cicilline stated: "I strongly condemn the use of sniper attacks by the Azerbaijani government, which is in direct violation of the cease-fire agreement and international law, and am appalled by reports that Azerbaijan forces attacked a Red Cross envoy."[227]
  • The Los Angeles City Hall was lit in the colors of the Armenian flag in view of the incident. A vigil was also held to promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict and to condemn the Azerbaijan for "outrageous militarization and vicious attacks", as stated by Paul Krekorian, one of the organizers of the vigil.[228][229]
  • Turkish human rights activist Sait Çetinoğlu marked the support of Turkish authorities to Azerbaijan and called it a policy when the "genocide is exported out of borders of the state".[230]
  • US Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, called for a "Leahy Law" investigation into reports that the Azerbaijan armed forces, which annually receive millions of dollars in U.S. military aid, committed gross violations of human rights during Baku’s 2 April offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh.[231]
  • US Senators Bill Barton and Lois Tochtrop have condemned human rights violations by Azerbaijan as war crimes. According to them, "One heartbreaking account of Azerbaijan’s barbaric actions during the four-day war in April was the mutilated elders that journalists found in Talish after its recapture from Azerbaijani forces". Another violation was that "among the Azerbaijani officers Aliyev honored at a ceremony following the four-day war was the man who had posed with [Yezidi-Armenian soldier] Sloyan’s severed head."[232]

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ (Armenian: Քառօրյա պատերազմ, tr. K’ařorya paterazm, IPA: [kʰɑroɾjɑ pɑtɛɾɑzm]; Azerbaijani: Dördgünlük müharibə),[17][18][19][20][21]
  2. ^ [22][23][24] (Armenian: ապրիլյան պատերազմ, aprilyan paterazm)[25]

Citations

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