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France condemns operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, holds Azerbaijan

2023 Sep 20, 9:37,

France has “utterly condemned” the ongoing conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and held Azerbaijan “solely responsible” for the launch of a military operation.

Azerbaijan launched an offensive in the mountainous territory just one day after allowing in aid through the sole road link connecting to Armenia, France 24 reported.

France has also condemned the use of heavy weapons including against residential areas.

“France utterly condemns Azerbaijan’s launch of a military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh, with the use of heavy weapons, including against residential areas. Such unilateral action, which threatens the thousands of civilians already affected by months of illegal blockade and runs counter to the international community’s efforts to reach a negotiated settlement, cannot be justified under any pretext,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

France further called on Azerbaijan to cease its offensive immediately and return to compliance with international law.

“It will hold Azerbaijan solely responsible for the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh’s civilian populations,” the ministry stated.

France also asked for an emergency convening of a United Nations Security Council meeting.

“It is in close consultation with its European and American partners in order for a strong response to be provided to this unacceptable offensive, commensurate with the risks it poses to the region’s security,” it added.

France 24 reported citing two diplomats that the Security Council meeting requested by France could happen in the coming days, possibly on Thursday.

This operation is "illegal, unjustifiable and unacceptable," French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told reporters.

Meanwhile, at least 27 people have been killed and 200 wounded in a military operation by Azerbaijan in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, CNN reported citing an official in Armenian-controlled territory there.

Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said on Tuesday, that it had begun an “anti-terrorist” campaign in the region, as Armenian media and local authorities reported heavy bombardment of the regional capital of Stepanakert.

Karabakh authorities said they have asked for immediate talks with Azerbaijan, amid continued shelling of the region. In response, the Azerbaijani Presidency said it is willing to meet with Karabakh Armenians, but added in a statement: “To stop anti-terrorist measures, illegal Armenian armed groups must raise the white flag, surrender all weapons, and the illegal regime must dissolve itself. Otherwise, anti-terrorist measures will be continued until the end.”

Notably, the Nagorno-Karabakh — an ethnic Armenian enclave that is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan — has been the cause of two wars between the neighbours in the past three decades, most recently in 2020, according to CNN.

Tensions have been simmering around the region for months, after Azerbaijani troops blockaded the Lachin corridor in December, cutting off the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia and preventing the import of food to its roughly 120,000 inhabitants, as per CNN. 


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