World Council of Churches (WCC) interim general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca expressed grave concern over the renewed and very serious escalation of conflict in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region since Sunday 27 September – reportedly following an attack by Azerbaijan’s military forces – which has already resulted in dozens of casualties including civilians, and which risks provoking a wider armed conflict in the region.
“I lament the tragic loss of lives, express my sincere condolences to the grieving families, and pray for the recovery of the injured,” said Sauca. “To stop this bloodshed, the WCC calls on all combatants to desist immediately from further military action and to return to the table of dialogue and negotiation.”
Sauca also appealed for urgent initiatives by the Minsk Group, under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, for progress towards a peaceful solution to this longstanding unresolved conflict.
“I am dismayed by the aggressively partisan stance taken by the government of Turkey, which as a member of the Minsk Group should maintain a neutral role, rather than that of an antagonist,” said Sauca. “I appeal therefore to our WCC member churches from the countries in the Minsk Group to engage with their governments to convey this message and to encourage urgent and sustained diplomatic efforts for peace in the region.”
His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, stated that the conflict, “calls on all of us to defend the rights of our nation, our sacred land, our future, and our national dignity.” Karekin II called on “our people to unite and for all the political forces to put aside their differences for the sake of the needed defense” of the homeland.
In his message, H.H. Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenian Orthodox Church said: “The world should know that Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh) is a land shaped with the blood, prayers and souls of Armenians… Moreover, according to International laws and regulations its people has the right to self-determination”.