What was the 2016 Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict?

Introduction

The 2016 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict (also known as the Four-Day War, April War, or April clashes) began along the Nagorno-Karabakh line of contact on 01 April 2016 with the Artsakh Defence Army, backed by the Armenian Armed Forces on one side and the Azerbaijani Armed Forces on the other.

The clashes occurred in a region that is disputed between the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh and the Republic of Azerbaijan. The region includes the former Soviet Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast and surrounding areas, which are integral part of the Republic of Artsakh according to its Constitution. According to Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani forces sought to prevent continuous Armenian shelling of civilian areas in Azerbaijan and therefore were forced to start a military operation for this purpose. There was no evidence of Armenian shelling, however. Until the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, the clashes were the worst since the 1994 ceasefire agreement signed by Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The scale of the military actions, the number of forces and combat equipment involved, such as heavy artillery, including the use of cluster munitions, tanks, air forces and suicide drones, as well as the statements of Azerbaijani officials clearly indicate that the events of 02-05 April were not a spontaneous escalation, but a carefully planned and prepared military operation, aimed at resolving the Karabakh conflict by the use of force instead of peaceful means.

A ceasefire was reached on 05 April between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Moscow. The Nagorno-Karabakh authorities also welcomed the oral agreement. After the agreement, both sides accused each other of violations. Azerbaijan claimed to have regained 20 km2 (7.7 sq mi) of land, while Armenian officials suggested a loss of 8 km2 (3.1 sq mi) of land of no strategic importance. However, the International Crisis Group reported that those heights were of strategic importance.

Officially Baku reported the loss of 31 servicemen without publishing their names. Nevertheless, Armenian sources claimed much higher numbers varying between 300 and 500. The Ministry of Defence of Armenia reported the names of 92 military and civilian casualties, in total.

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

Background

The First Nagorno-Karabakh War ended with a ceasefire agreement between the warring parties that came into effect on 12 May 1994. Since then, both Azerbaijan and Armenia have reported over 7,000 breaches of the ceasefire; more than 100 breaches of the ceasefire were reported and 12 Azerbaijani soldiers had been killed in 2015 alone. The April 2016 clashes were the most serious breach of the 1994 ceasefire until 2020.

Among the possible reasons behind the escalation of the conflict was the worsening economy of Azerbaijan. The collapse of oil prices in 2015-2016 have been frequently cited, with clashes being used to distract the Azerbaijani population from rising prices and unemployment. Alternatively, some Armenian sources blame Turkey for provoking violence. Some Turkish commentators have suggested a Russian strategy to destabilize the region.

Azerbaijan has been openly preparing for offensive operations against Nagorno Karabakh for several years, as evidenced by the continuous massive military build-up, as well as the Azerbaijani authorities’ numerous statements in favour of a military solution to the conflict. Thus, on 23 March 2015, Azerbaijan’s Minister of Defence stated that the Azerbaijani military had accumulated the necessary weaponry to destroy 70% of opposing forces in a first strike.

On 19 March 2016, President Aliyev stated: “To resolve the conflict, in the first place it is necessary for our country and army to become even stronger. A lot is being done in this direction. Today, we have gained full advantage on the line of contact.” Furthermore, In his speech, president Aliyev openly accused the Minsk Group Co-Chairs of provocation against Azerbaijan and had stated that Azerbaijan’s confidence in their activities had been completely undermined.

Clashes

The fighting focused mainly on the front line with a length of 257 km. Each side blamed the other for the outbreak of clashes around the towns of Aghdara, Tartar, Agdam, Khojavend, and Fuzuli. According to Armenian sources, on the night of 01 April and early morning of 02 April, the Azerbaijani side launched large-scale attacks along the contact line between Karabakh and Azerbaijan. On 02 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. Two other children were wounded as well. On 02 April, Azerbaijani positions and inhabited places near the front line came under fire from Armenian military, armed with mortars and high caliber grenade launchers, that killed 2 people and wounded 10 civilians. According to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence, during a rapid counter-offensive, the Armenian side’s front defence line was broken in multiple places and several strategic heights and inhabited places were retaken (including the strategically important hill of Lalatapa). An AFP journalist confirmed that the Lalatapa heights were also under Azerbaijani control. The Azerbaijani side claimed that they had captured some areas, including heights near the village of Talysh, as well as the village of Seysulan. Unmanned aerial vehicle of Armenia was shot down in Fuzuli as well. However, the Ministry of Defence of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh Republic says this claim is untrue. On 08 May the Armenia’s First Channel release footage from military positions near Seysulan. 14,400 people living in villages were affected by clashes, but no internal displacement or immediate humanitarian need was reported. Armenian Ministry of Defence 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. During the first day of fighting, Armenian forces claimed to have destroyed at least three Azerbaijani tanks, two military helicopters (including an Mi-24 and at least one armed Mil Mi-8/17) and two unmanned drones, photographs and videos of which surfaced on the internet. 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, which the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence claimed was untrue. On 06 April, news footage shown on Armenia’s First Channel revealed Armenian journalists and NKR troops freely mingling on the streets of Talysh and Madagiz. On 08 April, news footage shown on an Azerbaijani TV channel showed the Azerbaijan military installations purported to be near the Talysh heights. On 11 April, news footage from Armenia’s First channel showed the Talysh heights under the control of NKR troops. Again on 08 May, news footage from Civilnet showed journalist Tatul Hakobyan with some NKR soldiers at Talysh heights near Naftalan. Later, Defence Minister Zakir Hasanov stated that if shelling of Azerbaijani settlements by Armenian forces did not cease, Azerbaijan would consider launching an artillery bombardment on Stepanakert. On the same day, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence announced a unilateral end to hostilities. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence stated that should Armenian shelling pursue, Azerbaijan would continue its offensive.

On 04 April, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence reported that an Armenian command and control center had been destroyed and released a video which captured footage of the attack. On 05 April, a strategically important military base in Madaghis which is on the main road leading to Aghdara city and a bus carrying “Yerkrapah” Armenian volunteers were fired. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence claimed that along with numerous military personnel, two high-ranking Armenian officers were killed as a result. The three deceased Armenian lieutenant colonels, were identified as Roman V. Poghosyan, Alexan G. Arakelyan, and Gregorian K. Onik, along with one unidentified colonel. The same day, the Armenian defence 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. An Israeli-made ThunderB surveillance drone was shot down on 2 April according to the NK defence force. Armenian officials later protested Israel’s supply of weaponry to Azerbaijan. Some Azerbaijani sources claimed that Mataghis was under Azerbaijani control, citing Azerbaijan Ministry of Defence but Armenian side says this is not true because they repelled an Azerbaijani offensive allegedly backed by Turkey. Later Armenian side published video to prove that Mataghis remain in their control.

On 05 April, Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence announced that the mutual ceasefire agreement, which was got in Moscow by the head of Azerbaijan and Armenia’s Armed Forces, was breached by Armenian forces which shelled Azerbaijani positions near Tap Qaraqoyunlu with 60, 82 and 120 mm mortars.

According to Azerbaijani claims Armenian Armed Forces directed high caliber artillery fire at a mosque (in Əhmədağalı, one civilian dead), schools (in Seydimli, one schoolboy injured) and residential buildings as well as civilian infrastructure. Damage to houses in Azerbaijan by Armenian artillery fire was reported in the Russian press. According to Azerbaijan, on 07 April, Armenian armed forces shelled an ambulance evacuating injured Azerbaijani civilians near Aghdara-Goranboy. Also, according to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence, on 07 April, an Armenian “X-55” style drone was shot down by Azerbaijani forces while trying to fly over the frontline. The Ministry of Defence of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh Republic published some aerial photos to prove that Azerbaijan deploys military units near populated areas and violated the Article 52 of Geneva Convention. 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 Ministry of Defence refused for “safety reasons”. On 08 April, artillery fire was exchanged between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces, with the Armenians reporting two soldiers killed. 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. On 14 April, the Azerbaijani government reported that one of its soldiers had been killed by Armenian forces on the line of contact. On 15 April, Nagorno-Karabakh reported one of its soldiers had been killed in action with Azerbaijani forces. A soldier of the Nagorno Karabakh military was reported killed in action with Azerbaijani forces on 19 April. Further skirmishes occurred on 21 April, killing another Nagorno-Karabakh soldier.

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.

Anti-Azerbaijani Sentiment in Armenia

During and after the First Nagorno-Karabakh War anti-Azerbaijani sentiment grew in Armenia, leading to harassment of Azerbaijanis there. On 16 January 2003 former president of Armenia Robert Kocharian said that Azerbaijanis and Armenians were “ethnically incompatible” and it was impossible for the Armenian population of Karabakh to live within an Azerbaijani state. Speaking on 30 January in Strasbourg, Council of Europe Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer said Kocharian’s comment was tantamount to warmongering. According to a 2012 opinion poll, 63% of Armenians perceive Azerbaijan as “the biggest enemy of Armenia”.

Xenophobia and Anti-Armenian Propaganda

The incitement of hatred against Armenians and promotion of hate speech is one of the main challenges of creating the necessary conditions to enhance the peace process of the Karabakh conflict settlement, as well as to establish an atmosphere of confidence between the people of the conflicting sides: Nagorno Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The problem of racism and xenophobia towards the Armenian population of Azerbaijan was addressed and confirmed in a number of documents adopted by different international organisations, including the Concluding observations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD/C/AZE/4 dated 14 April 2005) as well as the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) reports on Azerbaijan dated 28 June 2002, 15 December 2006, 23 March 2011 and 17 March 2016, the Council of Europe Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities opinions on Azerbaijan dated 22 May 2003 and 9 November 2007.

Claims of Atrocities and of 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. 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. Photographs of corpses with ears cut off revived memories of the atrocities of the 1988-1994 war observed a Le Monde reporter. According to the Russia’s leading human rights lawyer, 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. Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence denied these reports.

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, with videos and pictures of his severed head posted on social networks. According to The Sunday Times, it included “shocking souvenir photos of uniformed Azerbaijani soldiers posing with the severed head”. Azerbaijani sources rejected this claim as false. On 03 May Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence 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. Sloyan’s body was buried without its head on 05 April 2016, in his native village of Artashavan. On 08 April, through the mediation of the Red Cross, the Azerbaijani side returned Sloyan’s head. Sloyan was interred for a second time the following day, to lay his head with his body. 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 allegedly “looks like” the soldier that had posed with the severed head of Sloyan. 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.

On 08 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.” 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”. Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defence denied these reports, as bodies of the Armenian soldiers handed over to Armenia have not been decapitated or desecrated. According to the Azerbaijani side, 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.

Relatives of three Armenian soldiers killed and beheaded during the escalation filed a complaint against Azerbaijan to the European Court of Human Rights. The plaintiffs demanded to recognize the case of inhumane treatment with regard to the bodies, lack of respect for their privacy, and discrimination based on nationality.

In April 2016 the European Ombudsman Institute issued a statement that condemns any violation of human rights regarding civilians and attacks on civilian objects in Nagorno-Karabakh. According to their statement, “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”.

Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe 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.”

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

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. On May 11, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry jointly with the Foreign Ministry invited military attaches from 13 countries to visit the territory in the Askipara village where the Defence Ministry claims to have found a white phosphorus munition fired by Armenian forces. The usage of phosphorus munition by the Armenian military was also reported by Al Jazeera. Azerbaijani Military Prosecutor’s Office initiated a criminal case upon the finding. NKR foreign ministry and Armenia defence ministry dismiss it as a falsification and distortion of the reality. Armenian media sources disclaimed it as a staged operation by Azerbaijan, citing absence of evidence of the presence of a shell or of a shell being used by Armenians, adding that this is a non-story as there is no evidence of any prohibited use.

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.

Official estimates of the warring parties are far apart from each other. According to official statements of the involved sides, 91 Armenian and 31 Azerbaijani soldiers were killed during the clashes, 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. Azerbaijani Defence Minister Zakir Hasanov declared that 560 Armenian servicemen were killed during the clashes and Armenian casualties were 10 times higher than Azerbaijani casualties. Hasanov claimed these figures were pronounced by the Armenian parliamentary commission which was established to investigate April clashes.

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

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

Analysis

In the aftermath, there was no conclusive assessment on the outcome of the clashes. 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”.

Several analysts noted that the clashes did not result in significant changes. Matthew Bodner wrote in The Moscow Times on 06 April that “the previous status quo has been more-or-less preserved.” 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.” Russian military expert Vladimir Yevseyev said that the Azerbaijani offensive, despite the initial victory, was not a success because the Azerbaijani side has numerous killed soldiers and destroyed tanks.

The International Crisis Group assessment stated that Azerbaijan gained “small but strategically important pieces of land”. Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer believes that Azerbaijan “won the first round of fighting”. Former Minister of Defence of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Samvel Babayan stated that the territories gained by Azerbaijan have strategic importance, and that Armenia lost these territories within one hour. The governments of Armenia and of Nagorno-Karabakh rejected his criticism.

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.” 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.

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.”

Russia was the one who benefited most from the four-day-clashes. During the early days of the conflict, Moscow adopted a reserved attitude, and after only a few hours, most probably brokered the ceasefire. The OSCE Minsk Group organized a meeting only after several days the conflict sparked, and the parties declared the ceasefire even before the meeting took place.

Following the conflict, Russia started to increase political and economic ties with both Azerbaijan and Armenia. In Yerevan, Gazprom agreed to increase gas supply to Armenia, and decreased the price of gas, which was already low. In Baku, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov had a discussion about a railway line from Russia to Iran through Azerbaijan. Dmitry Rogozin, a deputy prime minister said that Moscow is the biggest supplier of arms to both sides and will continue to be so in the future. People who worked on the settlement process said that none of the sides would have trust in a permanent peace established by Russia alone. As the former US ambassador to the Minsk Group, Mr Bryza puts it, “The key to resolving this is to get the two presidents to have sufficient trust in each other, and Russia is not going to be able to do that”.

Official Statements

Armenian

Armenian Ministry of Defence Spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan stated that the Azerbaijani attempted to take part of northern Karabakh with a “blitzkrieg”, which failed. After a ceasefire was reached NKR Defence Army Colonel Victor Arustamyan said that one military position was left under Azerbaijani control, which was of no strategic significance.

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. On 17 May Sargsyan stated that the Armenian side had lost control of “800 hectares of land having neither tactical nor strategic importance”.

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.

President Sargsyan stated that Armenia would formally recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh “if the military operations continue and acquire a large scale.” On 05 May 2016 the Government of Armenia approved the bill on recognition of the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. 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.

Azerbaijani

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev initially claimed the clashes were a “great victory” for Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence claimed that the Azerbaijani armed forces remain in control of strategic heights near the village of Talysh. Responding to Sargsyan’s claim on the Armenian troops’ loss of 800 ha of territory, Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence stated that the Azerbaijani military took control of 2,000 hectares of territory. In the opinion of analyst Rizvan Huseynov, an article posted on the website of the state oil company owned media CBC claimed, “Nearly 5% of occupied territories returned” (nearly 57,290 hectares of territory).

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 Defence spokesman.

Military Awards

A number of Armenian military servicemen were awarded by orders and medals of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. 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.

19 April 2016 Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed orders on awarding honorary titles, orders and medals to a group of Azerbaijani military servicemen. Among them Lieutenant Colonel Shukur Hamidov, Lieutenant Colonel Murad Mirzayev and Major Samid Imanov 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 personal participation in the military operation over Lalatapa height.

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.

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 Ministry of Defence 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 Defence of Azerbaijan could not deny this information.

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”.
  • 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.
  • EU: European Parliament. In April 2016 a debate on the escalation of tension on the Nagorno Karabakh – Azerbaijan borders took place in the European Parliament.
    • The majority of the Members of the European Parliament urged both parties to stop the military escalation and resume the peaceful negotiations.
    • Several MEPs urged Azerbaijan to install mechanism for monitoring cease-fire violations on the line of contact already accepted by Armenia.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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”.

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”.
    • The OSCE Minsk Group scheduled to have a meeting on 5 April 2016 in Vienna over the incidents.
  • Russia: President Vladimir Putin called on both sides to end hostilities and show restraint.
    • On 04 April Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov criticised what he called Turkey’s interference into the internal affairs of neighbouring nations and called Turkey’s strong support for Azerbaijan “one-sided”.
  • 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.”
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