Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous enclave in Azerbaijan 'populated by mainly ethnic Armenians who reject Azerbaijan's rule'. With support from Armenia, a conflict occurred between the secessionists and the Azerbaijanis, escalating into full-scale war in the early 1990s, over the territory. This resulted in 'up to 30,000 killed' and 'more than one million' were displaced, and a ceasefire was declared in 1994. Nagorno-Karabakh runs its own affairs, 'with Armenian military and financial backing'.
Ongoing tensions amid the underlying dispute result in regular clashes, but fresh hostilities at the start of April 2016 have been described as 'the most intense' since the 1994 ceasefire. The hostilities resulted in at least 73 deaths, including reports of civilian casualties. Barry sets out his position below:
The ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh dispute is, of course, a source of great tension in the region. Indeed, the war preceding the 1994 ceasefire killed up to 30,000 people and displaced over 1 million.
The recent upsurge in fighting along the line of contact - in fact, regular ceasefire violations - and the resulting loss of life is deeply concerning. I am also aware of reports that there have been civilian casualties.
It is clear that there is no military solution to this conflict and both sides must exercise restraint and refrain from using force. The announcement of a "ceasefire" on 5 April is therefore a positive step.
The recent deterioration of the situation also demonstrates the need for constructive engagement in the search for a negotiated, peaceful settlement to this conflict through the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) Minsk Group process. I hope the UK Government will therefore push for accelerated efforts in this regard.