The recent escalation of tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan is a stark reminder that it has the potential to further destabilize the region, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today as the two countries agreed on a ceasefire after recent reports of fighting.
Miroslav Jenča, Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and Americas for the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, noted that, on 12 September, authorities on both sides reported heavy fighting on their border, with heavy artillery, drones and large-calibre weapons used. He welcomed the latest ceasefire agreement reached on 14 September and expressed hope that it will hold.
Nevertheless, he went on to express concern regarding the escalation, underscoring the urgent need for the parties involved to advance the process of delimitation and demarcation. “This week’s events are also a stark reminder that tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan also have the potential to destabilize the region,” he warned, citing the importance of mediation efforts by the Russian Federation and European Union.
He urged the international community to remain committed to a peaceful settlement and bring the parties back to the negotiating table. In the immediate term, he stressed, the countries must abide by their obligation to fully implement the trilateral statement on the 9 November 2020 ceasefire, taking steps towards the signing of a lasting peace treaty.
In the ensuing debate, while speakers welcomed the latest ceasefire agreement and urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to commit to deescalate the tensions, the two parties criticized the other’s intention to undermine the ongoing peace processes.
The representative of Armenia, noting that today’s meeting “is taking place at a grave time for my country”, stated that Azerbaijan initiated a major military offensive targeting the eastern and south-eastern regions of his country on 13 September. Recalling that his delegation has repeatedly told the Council that Azerbaijan has been illegally acquiring territory by force, he stressed that the latest attacks demonstrate that policies of aggression are likely to continue in the absence of proper accountability measures.
Also pointing out that this aggression occurred in the context of peace negotiations, he said that this is Azerbaijan’s answer to the international community’s mediation efforts. He appealed to the Council to shoulder its responsibility to maintain international peace and security, urging its members to come up with tangible measures following today’s meeting.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s representative stressed that his country was recklessly provoked by Armenia to torpedo the fragile post-conflict normalization process. The countermeasures taken in provocations were limited and targeted at legitimate military objects, he affirmed.
He then emphasized that the escalation at the border was not an isolated incident. Armenia continues massive mine planting on the territory of Azerbaijan and has consistently failed to share accurate and comprehensive information about the hundreds of thousands of landmines it indiscriminately laid. The international community must resolutely condemn Armenia’s policy and actions, he stressed.
The representative of the Russian Federation, expressing concern over escalation on the border, called for the ceasefire to be abided by. It is crucial to increase security in border areas without interference by outside forces, with swift stabilization and return to dialogue, he continued.
Noting his country’s efforts in brokering trilateral statements, he also pointed to its work on a peace treaty, which, despite recent events, continues. Lasting peace in the South Caucasus is crucial to the entire region, he said, stressing that geopolitical competition can only endanger the process.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Gabon, India, Norway, Ireland, Kenya, China, Mexico, Ghana, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Albania, United Kingdom, United States and France.
The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 11:33 a.m.