Flare-up in Nagorno-Karabakh dispute threatens regional stability, says Foreign Affairs Committee Chair

David McAllister’s comments come as clashes continue over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, an enclave officially part of Azerbaijan but run by ethnic Armenians.
Nagorno-Karabakh protest in Brussels

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

08 Oct 2020

On Thursday, it emerged that 75,000 people, half the population of the breakaway region, have been forced to flee the fighting. This comes as a team of international mediators prepared to hold their first meeting in Geneva and Vladimir Putin described the violence as a “huge tragedy.”

A debate on the issue in Parliament on Wednesday heard that more than 200 people are now known to have been killed, including civilians, since the fighting between troops from Armenia and Azerbaijan began a week ago.

MEPs voiced particular concern about the alleged use of cluster bombs and the close involvement of Turkey which, they said, were “fanning the flames” of the war.

Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee chair David McAllister told the plenary, “This flare-up puts at risk the fragile stability of the whole region. This is the most dangerous of all frozen disputes. There cannot be a military solution to this conflict, only a political settlement.”

“This is the only answer and that is why I call for a halt to any further military activity.”

The German EPP member added, “I also call on all third parties in the region to refrain from further action that might inflame the situation.”

“This flare-up puts at risk the fragile stability of the whole region. This is the most dangerous of all frozen disputes. There cannot be a military solution to this conflict, only a political settlement” David McAllister, Foreign Affairs Committee Chair

Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative, admitted to the plenary that he did “not have much information on how conflict is developing because news is scarce.”

The former Spanish MEP said this was largely due to “fake news” and an “increasing amount of disinformation which is aimed at domestic audiences but could be used to pull regional actors into the conflict.”

He warned, “it is for this reason that media reports on the conflict must be considered with great caution.”

Borrell said he had met the Russian and Turkish foreign ministers on 13 September to discuss the conflict, adding, “both countries are close to the conflict and I asked them to refrain from doing anything that might further inflame the situation.”

“One side is blaming the other for starting the conflict, but my message today is that the fighting should stop. The only way of getting out of this is a resumption of immediate negotiations and without preconditions. Unfortunately, for now this is not the case.”

Bulgarian EPP member Andrey Kovatchev said, “200 people have been killed since the fighting restarted and even cluster bombs have allegedly been used. The violence must stop immediately but, at present, we seem a long way from a compromise.”

“Two hundred people have been killed since the fighting restarted and even cluster bombs have allegedly been used. The violence must stop immediately but, at present, we seem a long way from a compromise” Andrey Kovatchev, EPP

Tonino Picula, a Croatian Socialist member, also urged a stop to the fighting and a return to negotiations.

He said, “It seems that many of the foreign policy issues facing the EU at the present time have one common denominator: Turkey is at the border of that issue.”

French ID member Jérôme Rivière said the EU seemed “unable to provide a fair and realistic solution” to the dispute, while Polish EPP Anna Fotyga told the meeting that the recent flare-up, in a conflict that has been running for 30 years, “is very serious and needs an immediate cease fire.”

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