Madam President, Excellencies,

I thank Assistant Secretary-General Jenča for his presentation.

We appreciate the fact that this meeting is being held, at this crucial time, in the presence of their Excellencies the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Armenia and Azerbaijan. I would also like to welcome the other high-level representatives.

Switzerland is deeply concerned over the military operations launched by Azerbaijan earlier this week. This development places an additional burden on the civilian population of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is already suffering a very difficult humanitarian situation. Switzerland takes note of the ceasefire announced yesterday and calls for a lasting halt to hostilities on the ground. The use of force to resolve conflicts is not acceptable.

Although hostilities appear to have ceased, the situation remains fragile. At this time of uncertainty, the obligations of international law must be emphasized all the more clearly. International humanitarian law and human rights, in particular minority rights, must be respected unconditionally. We are saddened by reports of civilian casualties. The protection of the civilian population, the wounded and medical facilities remains paramount.

We also reiterate that humanitarian actors, including the ICRC, must be able to carry out their impartial missions and that the rapid and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid to the population in need must be facilitated. While we were relieved by the positive developments in humanitarian convoys using the Lachin corridor and the Aghdam road earlier this week - this was mentioned by many others - access must be sustained. We call on parties to respect their obligations under the November 2020 Trilateral Declaration and the rulings of the International Court of Justice, among others.

Madam President,

Over the course of the past days, many of us at the United Nations have reiterated our commitment to the principles of the Charter. Just yesterday, our President - and many others - did so in this very room. We must ensure that we do not confine ourselves to fleeting words, but seek the unity that enables us to act in favor of respect for international law and the peaceful settlement of disputes. A lasting peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan must be achieved through continued dialogue at the negotiating table. Peace must be based on respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and on the protection of minority rights.

It is incumbent on everyone, including the influential actors in the region, to ensure the respect for international humanitarian law and advance peaceful solutions. Switzerland is committed to achieve this objective and is ready to support the parties if they so wish.

Excellencies, echoing the words of the Secretary-General in his appeal to the General Assembly: Let us not give up on diplomacy at this crucial time. It is absolutely essential that Azerbaijan and Armenia resume the peace process.

I thank you.