Along with the EU, Ireland welcomed the cessation of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan and we hope that the November 2020 agreement can lead to renewed efforts to settle the long-standing territorial dispute. The trilateral agreement provides for a lasting truce and the restoration of economic and transport ties in the region and the early indications suggest that its provisions are being fulfilled by the sides. The agreement however excluded any involvement of two of the three OSCE Minsk Process co-chairs – France and the US – and the future role of the Co-Chairs Group has yet to be defined, especially their role in the determination of the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh although work on this is ongoing.
Ireland supports the call for renewed efforts towards a negotiated, comprehensive and sustainable settlement of the conflict, particularly on the long-term status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Along with the EU, we maintain our full support to the international format of the OSCE Minsk Group to pursue this objective. We believe it is important that the EU also play a role in the post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation efforts.
The humanitarian situation in the region is severe with thousands affected and displaced persons, a number of whom will not be returning to their homes in Nagorno-Karabakh. In this context I will highlight our support to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which remains the major international humanitarian organisation present throughout the region. The ICRC is playing an indispensable role in providing assistance to affected populations. Ireland provides the ICRC with flexible, un-earmarked funding of €10 million per annum precisely to enable it to respond effectively to emerging crises such as this. The EU, through DG ECHO, has provided almost €4m in humanitarian aid since the recent conflict began. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres made a press statement on 3 December 2020 indicating that the UN is prepared to provide humanitarian assistance.
There is also an urgent need for a fact-finding mission on the ground to investigate and verify alleged violations of International Humanitarian Law during the 2020 clashes. Ireland will continue to call for the establishment of such an independent mechanism that is agreeable to all sides, and which will have the necessary tools to establish the facts.
A final resolution can best be achieved with the support of the international community through the OSCE Minsk Group and by providing real supports to those affected by this conflict. Ireland and the EU continue to monitor the implementation of the agreement closely, with the ceasefire being just the first step towards a lasting peace.