Pope renews his appeal for peace in the Caucasus
By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis issued a heartfelt appeal on Sunday for an end to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan that, he said, is causing much death and suffering.
Speaking after the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square on the Solemnity of All Saints’, the Pope said “during these feast days, let us not forget what is happeninig in Nagorno Karabakh, where armed clashes are interrupted intermittently by fragile truces.”
He decried a “tragic increase in the number of victims, the destruction of homes, infrastructures and places of worship,” and noted that civilians are increasingly under attack.
Appeal to authorities and international community
“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", the Pope said, urging them not to attempt to solve the controversy with violence, but engaging in "sincere negotiations with the help of the international community.”
Pope Francis said he is close to all those who are suffering, and he invited them to pray to All Saints for a stable peace in the region.
The Pope has already expressed his concern and appealed for a negotiated solution to the crisis in Nagorno Karabakh during the Angelus on 28 September.
Meanwhile, on the ground 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.
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.