Constituency Statement: The Azeri-Armenian Border Conflict
As the world fights the coronavirus pandemic, today I want to speak about a battle of a different type: the recent Azeri-Armenian border conflict. I’m sad that I need to do so. Under the cover of the pandemic, we have seen the government of Azerbaijan launch military operations in the border zone of its Armenian neighbour. On 12 July 2020, Azeri armed forces attempted to infiltrate Armenia’s borders and cross into the town of Tavush, sparking the biggest ceasefire breach between the two countries since 2016. Previous Azeri aggression has been aimed at the disputed republic of Artsakh; however, this time Azeri forces attacked Armenia itself with tank, drone and artillery fire against soldiers, civilian homes and even a village kindergarten, while people on the streets of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, chanted, ‘Death to Armenia,’ and, ‘End the quarantine; start the war.’ The skirmish was undertaken with complete disregard for the UN’s call for a global ceasefire during the current coronavirus pandemic and resulted in dozens of deaths on both sides.
Alarmingly, an Azeri defence ministry spokesman made a threat to Armenia that their weapons were ‘capable of hitting the Metzamur Atomic Energy Station with high accuracy, which will turn into a catastrophe for Armenia.’ I find it extraordinary that the Azeri government would at this time—indeed, at any time—threaten to attack a nuclear reactor with a missile strike. Such behaviour is not acceptable. I urge both nations to ensure that their disputes continue to be the subject of peaceful negotiations, not armed conflict.