France and Azerbaijan clash over Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

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France and Azerbaijan have exchanged harsh words over the ongoing conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians.

On Tuesday, Azerbaijan launched a major military offensive against the separatist forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, claiming to have regained control over several strategic areas. The attack was met with strong condemnation from France, which has a large Armenian diaspora and co-chairs the Minsk Group, a diplomatic initiative to resolve the conflict.

France’s foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, called Azerbaijan’s operation “illegal, unjustifiable and unacceptable” and said that France holds Azerbaijan responsible for the fate of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. She also called for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the situation.

The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has been simmering for decades, with occasional flare-ups of violence. The latest escalation comes three years after a war in 2020 that ended with a Russia-brokered ceasefire that left Azerbaijan in control of most of the region but also sparked protests and political turmoil in Armenia.

The international community has urged both sides to cease hostilities and resume dialogue, but the prospects of a peaceful solution seem dim. Turkey, which has close ties with Azerbaijan, has expressed its support for Baku’s offensive and accused Armenia of occupying Azerbaijani lands. Russia, which has a military base in Armenia and is a key player in the region, has called for restraint and offered to mediate.

The conflict has also drawn attention from other countries, such as Germany, which expressed its concern over the renewed violence and called for an end to the “dead end” of military actions. The US, which is also a co-chair of the Minsk Group, has urged both sides to stop fighting and de-escalate the situation.

The humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh remains dire, as civilians are caught in the crossfire and face shortages of food, water and medical supplies. On Monday, a rare convoy of aid was allowed to enter the region through the Lachin corridor, the only road link from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh.

However, the delivery was overshadowed by the resumption of hostilities on Tuesday.

The death toll from the conflict is unclear, as both sides have reported different numbers of casualties.

 

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