Swiss call for an end to violence in Nagorno-Karabakh

Men examine a shop damaged by shelling by Azerbaijan's artillery in the frontline city of Martakert on October 19 Keystone

The Swiss foreign ministry has called for an immediate stop to the violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It has also allocated CHF1 million ($1.1 million) to the humanitarian operations of the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

This content was published on October 20, 2020 - 18:25

“Attacks on the civilian population and civilian objects must cease. The parties to the conflict are called upon to comply with international humanitarian law,” the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The contribution was being made in response to an appeal by the ICRC, it said.

“Furthermore, the ministry expresses Switzerland’s regret that the humanitarian ceasefires of October 10 and 17 have not been respected. It reiterates its call to the parties to the conflict to stop the violence and condemns the ongoing shelling of residential areas.”

Observance of the principles of distinction and proportionality were paramount, it added. “This also means that cluster munitions must not be used, as such weapons do not make any distinction between civilians and combatants.”

The Swiss government said that it was only through peaceful means that a lasting solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict could be found. The foreign ministry therefore called on both parties to the conflict “to resume meaningful negotiations without delay or preconditions”.

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

A ceasefire in the mountain territory of Nagorno-Karabakh was under severe strain on Tuesday after fierce new clashes between Azeri and ethnic Armenian forces fighting their deadliest battles since the 1990s.

The ceasefire, agreed on Saturday, has had little impact on fighting that began on September 27, despite concerns it could spark a wider conflict involving Russia and Turkey.

Several hundred people have been killed since September 27 in fighting involving drones, warplanes, heavy artillery, tanks and missiles, raising fears of a humanitarian crisis and concerns about the security of oil and gas pipelines in Azerbaijan.

The new ceasefire appears to have had no more effect on fighting than an earlier deal brokered by Russia that failed.

Azerbaijan wants an end to what it calls Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia rules this out and accuses Azerbaijan of making a land grab.

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