Tensions Escalate in Nagorno-Karabakh: The International Community Calls for Immediate Action

PeopleOther ♦ Published: September 21, 2023; 18:30 ♦ (Vindobona)

The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, the contested territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan, is once again on a knife's edge. Recent developments have escalated tensions, threatening regional stability and raising urgent humanitarian concerns. International organizations like the OSCE and UN are deeply concerned and have convened special meetings to address the issue.

Even before the latest military escalation, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh was catastrophic, with Azerbaijan blocking the only Armenian access road for months and food and medicine in short supply. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / en:User:VartanM. World inset added by en:User:Kmusser. [Public Domain]

The armed forces of Azerbaijan initiated what has been termed a "large-scale aggression" against Nagorno-Karabakh. According to Ambassador Armen Papikyan, the Permanent Representative of Armenia to the OSCE, Azerbaijani forces deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure, including the capital city of Stepanakert. Papikyan stressed that the ongoing blockade of the Lachin Corridor and the use of starvation as warfare tactics are part of Azerbaijan’s policy of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The military operations have resulted in dozens of civilian casualties and have exacerbated an already dire humanitarian crisis. Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of violating the trilateral declaration on the cessation of hostilities agreed upon in November 2020. In turn, Azerbaijan argues that Armenian forces have remained in the region in violation of the agreement and labels its military activities as "anti-terror measures."

The International Response of OSCE, UNSC and EU

A special session of the OSCE Permanent Council was convened at the initiative of the Armenian mission to the OSCE. Ambassador Armen Papikyan urged immediate and targeted intervention from the international community, including the possibility of targeted sanctions against Azerbaijan.

OSCE Chairman-in-Office Bujar Osmani met with Azerbaijani and Armenian Ministers on the UN General Assembly. He expressed concerns over military operations in the region and the potential danger to civilians. Osmani emphasized the need for humanitarian considerations and the need for constructive dialogue. He reiterated the OSCE's readiness to assist Armenia and Azerbaijan in their peace journey, stating that the organization has the necessary experience and tools.

The UN Security Council also convened for a briefing, addressing the humanitarian crisis and ongoing military operations. The Security Council called for an immediate ceasefire and voiced concern over the severe consequences for vulnerable groups in the conflict-affected area. The EU has demanded security guarantees for the ethnic Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh. President of the European Council, Charles Michel emphasized that Azerbaijan must ensure the safety and respect of the Armenians in the region.

Contested Solutions and Future Outlook

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev claims that his country has regained full control over the region and has plans for its "peaceful reintegration." However, Armenia fears that this could lead to ethnic cleansing and has started preparations for the arrival of tens of thousands of refugees. Meanwhile, Russia, traditionally an ally of Armenia, seems to be focused on its military engagements in Ukraine, limiting its involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis. Turkey has been backing Azerbaijan, further complicating the geopolitical dynamics.

The international community is united in calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a return to dialogue. However, the situation remains volatile, and active steps are needed from all sides to prevent another full-blown crisis. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not just a regional issue but one that could have broader implications for international stability.

Given the severity of the recent military operations and their devastating impact on civilians, prompt and decisive action is more urgent than ever. The world watches closely as developments unfold, hoping that dialogue will replace hostility and that a peaceful resolution can be achieved.


Armenian MFA

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Armenia to the OSCE