The ceasefire agreed upon by Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict started this afternoon at 12 noon local time (10 a.m. Belgian time). Shortly before that, both parties had accused each other of mutual bombing.
Both countries have been engaged in heavy fighting for the controversial region for two weeks. The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan had traveled to Moscow on Friday for negotiations.
After talks that lasted ten hours, this has led to a ceasefire from Saturday noon. This should make it possible to exchange prisoners and fallen soldiers. Details have yet to be worked out. Both countries are also committed to substantial peace talks under the auspices of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).
Nagorno-Karabakh was part of the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan in the Soviet Union. The population is predominantly Armenian and claimed independence after the fall of the Soviet Union, but Azerbaijan has wanted the region back for decades.
Shortly before the truce came into effect, Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of new bombings. According to Artak Belgarian, mediator of the self-proclaimed republic in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijani missiles hit the area’s capital, Stepanakert, on Saturday morning. A journalist from the French agency AFP heard two explosions on the spot in the morning. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, on the other hand, stated that Armenia was ‘heavily bombing’ inhabited areas.
Earlier this week, De Standaard gave the floor to three voices from the region. You can read that story about the years of struggle and what it does to the population here.