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European Parliament calls for sanctions on Azerbaijan

The legislature’s foreign affairs committee has condemned the Azeri military’s “unjustified” attack on the disputed province of Nagorno-Karabakh

An explosion in mountainous terrain that Baku claims to be Azerbaijani forces ‘destroying positions’ used by Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, September 19, 2023 ©  AFP / Azerbaijani Defence Ministry

The European Parliament’s Foreign affairs committee has condemned Azerbaijan’s “pre-planned and unjustified” attack on the ethnic-Armenian province of Nagorno-Karabakh. Should Baku refuse to call off the assault, the committee recommended on Tuesday that the European Council impose sanctions on Azerbaijan.

“In the absence of an immediate halt to the ongoing attack, we call on the Council to fundamentally reconsider the EU’s relations with Azerbaijan in this light, and consider imposing sanctions against responsible Azerbaijani authorities,” read a joint statement from committee chairman David McAllister and its rapporteurs to the Caucasus region, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

The Azeri military announced “counter-terrorism measures” in Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday morning, as the Armenian side reported missile and artillery strikes on the region’s capital of Stepanakert, and tank attacks along the border with Azerbaijan. The Azeri side claimed that Armenian troops in Nagorno-Karabakh opened fire on their positions in the early hours of the morning, a claim that Yerevan denies.

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Nagorno-Karabakh asks Azerbaijan for ceasefire

The US, EU, and Russia – which has a peacekeeping contingent stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh – have all called on both sides to settle their differences peacefully. Officials in the province itself have appealed to their Azeri counterparts to cease fire and “sit down at the negotiating table to resolve this situation.”

Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan in the waning days of the USSR. The predominantly ethnically Armenian population of the region fought a full-scale war for its sovereignty in the 1990s and has been supported by Yerevan ever since. A second conflict over the enclave broke out in 2020, which ended with the loss of some territory to Azerbaijan, and left Nagorno-Karabakh linked to Armenia by the Lachin corridor, a mountain rode that was the sole supply route to the territory until it was blockaded by Baku-backed environmental activists last year.

Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of using the blockade to facilitate the “ethnic cleansing” of Nagorno-Karabakh. In its statement on Tuesday, the committee condemned Azerbaijan’s role in maintaining the blockade, accusing Baku of creating a “major humanitarian crisis.” 

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