Photo: Peter Williams/WCC, 2001.

Photo: Peter Williams/WCC, 2001.

World Council of Churches (WCC) interim general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca called for urgent de-escalation of the confrontation on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border, where renewed fighting since 12 July has cost the lives of at least 16 people and resulted in destabilization and increased threats of wider conflict.

“The WCC is deeply concerned by reports that artillery exchanges have imperilled civilians and essential infrastructure, including a factory in the Tavush region of Armenia making personal protective equipment essential for the COVID-19 response,” said Sauca. “Particularly in the context of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has badly affected both Azerbaijan and Armenia, WCC calls on both sides to observe the global ceasefire called for by the UN secretary-general to enable all necessary resources to be deployed in the fight against the virus.”

Sauca added: “While Armenia has expressed commitment to the global ceasefire, the WCC regrets that Azerbaijan has not.”

The latest fighting represents a new escalation of a decades-long territorial dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the region of Nagarno-Karabakh. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has long sought to mediate a settlement of the conflict, with the OSCE ‘Minsk Group’ leading those efforts.

“The WCC calls for renewed engagement in diplomatic efforts to find a solution to this issue, and to remove a root cause of conflict between the two nations,” said Sauca.

Read the full statement

WCC member churches in Armenia