Pope Francis on July 19, 2020, repeated his appeal for a cease-fire in the Caucasus, where conflict has arisen between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The Holy Father’s plea came after praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He offered his prayers for all people suffering during the pandemic, especially those in areas of conflict.
“In this time in which the pandemic shows no signs of coming to an end, I want to assure my nearness to all those suffering from the illness and its economic and social repercussions,” Pope Francis said. “My thought goes out especially to the populations whose sufferings are heightened due to situations of conflict. On the basis of a recent United Nations resolution, I renew the appeal for a global and immediate cease-fire that would allow the peace and safety that are indispensable in order to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance.
“In particular, I am following and am concerned about the renewed armed tensions in the past few days in the Caucus region between Armenia and Azerbaijan. While I assure my prayers to the families of those who have lost their lives during the clashes, I hope that, with the dedication of the international community, and through dialogue and goodwill, there may be a lasting peaceful solution for the good of those beloved peoples.”
Armed clashes involving tanks and artillery on the border between north-eastern Armenia and Azerbaijan have raised fears of an outbreak of war between the two Caucasus nations, according to Vatican News.
At least 12 soldiers and one civilian from Azerbaijan are dead, as are four soldiers from Armenia. Many others are wounded.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of having violated the ceasefire between their countries.
The clashes have taken place not in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, but along an internationally-recognized border between the two countries.