Pope Francis expressed his concern over escalating hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan, prompting renewed fears of war in the Caucasus region.
After praying with pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus address on 19th July, the pope offered prayers for all suffering from Covid-19, as well as those suffering from economic repercussions “and situations of conflict”.
“In particular, I am following and am concerned about the renewed armed tensions in the past few days in the Caucasus region between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” he said.
The conflict stems from the long-disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the region, which has an Armenian ethnic majority, proclaimed itself as an independent state, leading to a conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan from 1988 to 1994.
According to an 18th July report by the Reuters news agency, 15 servicemen from Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as an Azerbaijani civilian were killed since 12th July in skirmishes near the border. Both sides have blamed each other for violating cease-fire agreements.
Picture: A law enforcement officer guards a yard with unexploded shells next to a house in Agdam, Azerbaijan, on 15th July 2020. Pope Francis expressed his concerns about increased tensions at the Armenia-Azerbaijan border during his Angelus prayer at the Vatican on 19th July. (CNS photo/Aziz Karimov, Reuters).