Brussels (Brussels Morning) The EU has condemned the violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which continues despite three ceasefire agreements brokered by France, Russia and the US, and has called for a return to negotiations, EEAS reported yesterday, Thursday.
The EU reminded both sides in the conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilian lives, citing the growing number of reports that civilians are being targeted. The bloc urged the belligerents to return to the negotiating table without delay, as most recently agreed on Sunday in Washington.
The EU described the continuation of hostilities as unacceptable, with Armenia and Azerbaijan accusing each other of attacking civilian targets, Reuters reported Thursday. Breakaway state Republic of Artsakh’s Human Rights Ombudsman Artak Beglaryan said the largest city of the de facto republic, Stepanakert, was shelled one day after a hospital in the city was struck. Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence warned that Armenia had attacked military and civilian targets along the front line, adding that the cities of Tartar and Goranboy had been shelled.
President of the breakaway state Arayik Harutyunyan warned on Thursday that Azerbaijani forces are closing in on the city of Shusha, stressing that holding the city is pivotal for maintaining control of the region, RFI reported. He called for unity in repelling the advancing forces in the next few days, claiming it was crucial that the situation be reversed.
Azerbaijani forces have been making progress since armed conflict reignited about a month ago. Gaining control of Shusha would be a major victory for them, given the city’s strategically important location. Since fighting began, more than 1,200 dead have been reported from both sides, with over 130 civilians killed and thousands forced to leave their homes. According to Russia’s President Putin last week, an estimated 5,000 people had been killed in the conflict.
Meanwhile, the meeting to be mediated by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, Russia and the US, which was slated for yesterday, Thursday, in Geneva, was postponed for at least one day.