Pope Francis appeals for calm amid rising tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia

Pope Francis on Sunday (December 18) made an appeal during his Sunday address for end to escalating tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan. His appeal has come on the heels of blocking of a key road linking Armenia to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

A group of Azerbaijanis claiming to be environmental activists blocked the Lachin corridor, the only land route for people, goods, food and medical supplies to reach Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia across Azerbaijani territory at the start of this week.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have a dispute between them over Nagorno-Karabakh region. The two countries have fought repeated wars over the region. The region is internationally recognised as being part of Azerbaijan but it is home to 120,000 ethnic Armenians – since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. As recently as September, more than 200 soldiers were killed in a flare-up of fighting.

After his weekly Angelus prayer, the 86-year-old pontiff asked the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray for peace in Ukraine and in Peru where the fall of ousted and jailed leader Pedro Castillo sparked deadly protests around the country.

(With inputs from agencies)

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