Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to declare a “humanitarian truce” starting at midnight on Saturday (17), the ministries of foreign affairs of the two countries announced in a joint statement.
“The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan have agreed to a humanitarian truce starting on October 18 at 00:00 local time,” said the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an announcement confirmed by the Ministry of Azerbaijan in a similar statement.
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The announcement comes hours after the Azerbaijani government reports that 13 civilians have been killed and more than 50 injured in the city of Ganja, the country’s second largest, in a bombing blast attributed to Armenia. According to Azerbaijan, two projectiles hit residential buildings. The Armenian government has accused Azerbaijan of continuous bombing in the country.
5 points to understand the clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan
The exchange of accusations took place in the midst of a first week-long truce attempt, mediated by Russia.
Clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh
Saturday’s bombing is yet another episode of violence after escalating tension between the two countries over the dispute over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region that is in Azerbaijan but is of ethnic Armenian majority. The two nations have been in conflict since the end of September over the region. A ceasefire took effect on 10 October, but was stopped by the bombing in Ganja.
The Nagorno-Karabakh region has 140,000 inhabitants, 99% of whom are Armenians. The fighting between separatists and Azeris began on September 27 and since then, according to official accounts, the conflict has left more than 300 dead.
The region declared independence from Azerbaijan just before the fall of the Soviet Union. This movement sparked a war that caused 30,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of refugees from both sides in the 1990s.
The Azerbaijani government accuses Armenia of bombing the city of Ganja on Saturday (17) – Photo: Umit Bektas / Reuters
Since then, the Azerbaijani government has accused Armenia of occupying its territory and armed clashes are recurrent.
The current clashes have been the most serious since 1994. After nearly 30 years of diplomatic stalemate, Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Alyev, promised to regain control of this territory, including by force, if necessary.
Countries blame each other for this year’s conflicts, which have already caused more than 600 deaths.
Armenia is a country with a Christian majority, while Azerbaijan is mostly Muslim. Decades of negotiations, mediated by foreign powers, have never reached a peace treaty.
But the conflict goes beyond the religious issue, gaining geopolitical contours. Turkey, which has close ties to Azerbaijan, said it was “fully ready” to help its ally regain control of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Turkey, which has been criticized by NATO allies for its stance on the conflict, reiterated its support for Azerbaijan. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey “will always be on the side of Azerbaijan”.
The Turkish government accuses Armenia of illegally occupying Azeri territory. On the other hand, Armenia claims that Turkey encouraged Azerbaijan to seek a military solution to the conflict, putting Armenian civilians in danger.
Russia, for its part, has stable relations with both, but it is an important ally of Armenia and maintains a military base there.
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Map – Photo: Alexandre Mauro / G1