Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) expressed concern on Sunday about the escalation of events in Armenia and Azerbaijan and said Estonia hopes to discuss the issue at the United Nations Security Council.
The minister posted a statement on social media calling for "all parties to exercise restraint" and said Estonia supports a peaceful resolution.
I am following with concern the escalation of armed tensions between #Armenia and #Azerbaijan. I call all the parties to exercise restraint and look for ways to resolve the conflict through dialogue. Estonia supports a peaceful resolution of the current situation.— Urmas Reinsalu (@UrmasReinsalu) September 27, 2020
The BBC reported on Sunday: "One of the world's oldest conflicts, a territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, has re-erupted with the heaviest clashes in years.
"At least 23 people were reported to have been killed on Sunday as the two ex-Soviet republics battled over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The region is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but controlled by ethnic Armenians.
"Martial law has been declared amid the violence in some parts of Azerbaijan, as well as in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh."
Estonia hopes to raise the situation at the UNSC
In a statement released on Sunday, Reinsalu said: "The situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region is extremely concerning. I call on both parties to end hostilities immediately and take every measure to prevent a further escalation of the situation. Using violence to solve differences is to be condemned.
"It is crucial for both sides to immediately end hostilities and embark on a peaceful resolution of their differences. As a member of the UN Security Council, Estonia is consulting with the Council members if the issue shall be raised at the meeting of the UN Security Council"
Reinsalu is in contact with the Armenian and Azerbaijan foreign ministers and will emphasize the importance of a peaceful solution to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh (Mägi-Karabahh).
"Estonia considers it essential for states to resolve their differences without military intervention. We stand for following the rules-based order when it comes to security issues. According to international law, states can co-exist peacefully," Reinsalu said.
"The situation is serious and has an impact on peace and security in the entire region," he added.
On Monday, Reinsalu spoke with the Foreign Minister of Armenia Zohrab Mnatshakanyan and the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Ceyhun Bayramov to discuss the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
"In my conversations with both ministers, I emphasised the importance of a peaceful resolution to the conflict and called for an immediate end to the use of violence," Foreign Minister Reinsalu said. "A further escalation of the situation must be prevented and hostilities must cease. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be resolved peacefully."
The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijani explained their positions on the development of the conflict.
Reinsalu informed them of Estonia's intention to consult with the members of the UN Security Council about raising the events in Nagorno-Karabakh at the UN Security Council.
Mihkelson: The escalation is a threat to the whole region
Member of the Riigikogu and deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson told ERR: "Heavy weapons are in use. According to preliminary reports, civilians have already died."
He added that the conflict has a deeper history than the frozen conflict of the past 30 years.
"In recent weeks, relations have become very tense between Turkey and Russia. We know that Turkey is actively supporting Azerbaijan, but it is known that Russia is present with its forces in Armenia, and there are reports that in recent weeks Turkey has sent weapons to Azerbaijan, such as an F-16 assault plane with its crews, as well as fighters. It cannot be ruled out that there is a much broader context behind this tense situation today, and it is very dangerous," said Mihkelson. Turkey is a NATO member.
He pointed out that the conflict which flared up a few weeks ago had receded, but this time it may not be the case.
"The current situation, where both accuse each other of launching a massive military attack, shows that the chances of the conflict escalating are likely to be quite high in the coming hours and days," Mihkelson warned on Sunday.
"Any escalation there could now significantly worsen the security situation, not only in the South Caucasus, but more broadly."
He believes that Estonia has a big role to play in the UN Security Council.
When asked how the situation could impact Estonia and the security of the wider region, director of the Estonian Centre of Eastern Partnership Gert Antsu told ERR News: "The impact on Estonia is more of an indirect nature at the moment, obviously regional security in South Caucasus takes a big hit as does international law. Although if neighbouring states - including a member of NATO - would get involved then the repercussions would reach us more directly.
"Looking at it from the viewpoint of our centre, the conflict may well have a significant impact on the implementation of our projects supporting reforms in Armenia - although the Covid situation already makes travelling there practically impossible for the time being.
"The flaring up of the conflict is very unfortunate and it is already claiming innocent lives, I hope the fighting can be stopped as soon as possible."
EU special envoy: We will continue our political and diplomatic efforts
EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia Toivo Klaar told ERR on Monday the EU is supporting the peace process.
"The EU has always supported the peace process, the negotiators. This region is important to the EU, it is in our eastern neighborhood, where the EU has political and economic interests, strong ties with both Azerbaijan and Armenia. The EU has called for a truce. We will continue our political and diplomatic efforts," he said.
Asked if the EU had failed by being able to prevent the conflict despite being present in negotiations, Toivo said: "So to speak, it is not just the EU that has failed, but the international community as a whole.
"But I emphasize again: ultimately, armed conflict depends first and foremost on the parties, whether there is peace or there is war. External forces, like the EU, can only try to influence both sides to end the conflict, just as we have done now, the United States, Russia, the United Nations have done ... We will do everything we can, but in the end it is up to the parties themselves."
On Sunday, Toivo called for the fighting in the region to stop.
The fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh must stop. Both @eucopresident Charles Michel and @JosepBorrellF have today called for a return to negotiations. High Representative Borrell also spoke to both @ZMnatsakanyan and @bayramov_jeyhun.— Toivo Klaar (@ToivoKlaar) September 27, 2020
Editor: Helen Wright