FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. - September 13, 2022
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Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) Calls for an End to the Attacks on the Armenian Border and an End to Hostilities Between Armenia and Azerbaijan
Writing from Echmiadzin Monastery near Yerevan, Armenia, our Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) delegation woke today to the news of attacks on the Armenia border. The Armenian Defense Ministry claimed Azerbaijan conducted artillery strikes, including the cities of Goris, Sotk, and Jermuk. In total, five cities along the border experienced hostilities. According to CNN, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense acknowledged the strikes but said they were “small scale.” But on the ground, reports have already identified dozens of Armenians injured and more than several dozen killed.
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) calls for an immediate end to the attacks on the Armenian border and the violence centering around the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The history of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, identified as Artsakh by Armenians, goes back to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Armenians see the region as historically Armenian, given the centuries-long presence of Armenian communities, churches, and ancient Christian sites. Many of these sites have been intentionally destroyed during the two major wars in 1988-1994 and 2020 between Azeri and Armenian forces, including hundreds of churches damaged or demolished and thousands of ancient Armenian crosses carved into stone (khachkars) having been destroyed.
CMEP supports the statement from Secretary Blinken on Monday, September 12 calling for an “immediate cessation of hostilities” and the safety and protection of all people. We also call for the protection of the Armenian Christian community residing in the contested territories and the protection of historical and present Christian sacred sites.
Members of the CMEP delegation traveling this week in Armenia say:
Rev. Margaret Rose, Deputy for Ecumenical and Interreligious Religions of The Episcopal Church commented, “our diaconal responsibility is to bear witness to the church around the world. While in Armenia, we have seen firsthand the faithfulness and amazing willingness of people to call on the church for comfort and safety.”
“Arriving as we did just as new hostilities have erupted in Armenia has been sobering for all of us,” said The Rt. Rev. Mark Edington, Bishop in Charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. “The Armenian Apostolic Church has been especially wounded by these decades of conflict, and I am glad that we can at least be present here in this moment to show our solidarity with Archbishop Vicken Aykazian and all the Armenian Church.”
CMEP’s Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, says, “We are devasted to hear the news of attacks at the border and the reescalation of hostilities. We pray for peace and for the families and loved ones who are affected.” CMEP calls on the United States government to acknowledge the devastating effects of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict on Christian communities and to do everything within its power to encourage an end to the hostilities and a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict.