Armenia and Azerbaijan erupt into fighting over disputed Nagorno-Karabakh. The EU calls for ceasefire.

Tensions have increased between Armenia and Azerbaijan over clashes in which Yerevan said Azeri forces shelled the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh and Baku accused Armenian forces of shelling Azeri military and civilian positions, Reuters reported.

Accusing Azerbaijan of air and artillery attacks, Armenia reported downing helicopters and destroying tanks, and declared martial law.Azerbaijan said it had begun a counter-offensive in response to shelling.

The region is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but controlled by ethnic Armenians.

European reactions

“Military action must stop, as a matter of urgency, to prevent a further escalation,” the European Council president Charles Michel tweeted on Sunday, calling for “an immediate return to negotiations, without preconditions”.

“I am gravely concerned about reports of military escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. I call on our Member States Armenia and Azerbaijan to show responsibility and restraint by immediately stopping hostilities. On behalf of the Council of Europe, I call on the authorities of our two Member States to do everything possible to protect human lives and not to engage in military conflict. No efforts should be spared to stop the escalation,” the Secretary General of the 47-nation Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović-Burić stated.

Turkey’s position

President Erdogan said on social media that Turkey “stands by its Azerbaijani brothers with all its means”and called Armenia “the biggest threat to peace and tranquillity in the region”. Turkey has close ties to Azerbaijan and does not have relations with Armenia because of a dispute over the mass killing of Armenians during the Ottoman era. Armenia says this was a genocide but Turkey staunchly rejects this.