Armenia and Azerbaijan exchanged accusations and warnings at the United Nations on Thursday, following a swift military victory by Azerbaijan in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The two countries also faced calls from Western nations led by France to provide safety guarantees for the civilians and cultural heritage in the region.
The Armenian Foreign Minister, Ararat Mirzoyan, accused Azerbaijan of committing “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh. He said that Azerbaijan, with the support of Turkey and foreign mercenaries, launched a “large-scale war” against Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2020, violating the ceasefire agreements and international law. He also blamed Azerbaijan for destroying Armenian churches, monuments, and cemeteries in the region.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, Jeyhun Bayramov, rejected the Armenian allegations as “baseless” and “unfounded”. He said that Azerbaijan had exercised its right to self-defense and restored its territorial integrity by liberating Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenian occupation. He also claimed that Azerbaijan had ensured the protection of human rights and cultural diversity in the region, and invited international organizations to monitor the situation.
The French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, expressed his concern over the humanitarian and security situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, and urged both sides to respect their obligations under the trilateral statement signed by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia in November 2020. He also called for the establishment of a lasting political solution to the conflict, based on the principles of the Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, Russia, and the United States.
The Minsk Group was created in 1992 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. However, its efforts have been largely ineffective, as the two countries have failed to reach a comprehensive agreement on the status and future of the region.