Pope Francis renewed his plea for peace in Nagorno-Karabakh in the Caucasus with remarks following the Sunday praying of the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square.
“On this feast day let us not forget what is happening in Nagorno-Karabakh where the armed clashes are taking place amid a fragile truce, with the tragic increase in victims, destruction of homes, buildings, and places of worship, with increasing massive involvement of the civil population,” the Pope said. “It’s tragic.
“I would like to renew my heartfelt appeal to the parties responsible in the conflict so that they intervene as soon as possible to stop the shedding of innocent blood. May they not think of using violence to resolve the controversy, but dedicate themselves to sincere negotiation with the help of the international community. On my part, I am near to all those who are suffering and I invite [everyone] to ask the intercession of the Saints for a stable peace in that region.”
Armenia and Azerbaijan have again accused each other of bombing residential areas in defiance of a pact to avoid the deliberate targeting of civilians in and around disputed Nagorno-Karabakh, according to Vatican News.
Shelling was reported by both sides on Saturday within hours of the latest agreement to defuse the conflict, reached after talks in Geneva between the two countries’ foreign ministers and envoys from France, Russia, and the United States.
The death toll in the worst fighting in the South Caucasus for more than 25 years has surpassed 1,000.