Tuesday, May 21, 2024

US calls on Azerbaijan to reopen Lachin corridor

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a telephone conversation with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, discussing the importance of reopening of the Lachin Corridor for commercial and private vehicles, US Department of State Spokesperson Matthew Miller announced in a statement.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev today to underscore the importance of Azerbaijan-Armenia peace discussions and pledged continued US support,” the statement reads.

“Secretary Blinken shared his belief that peace was possible,” it said.

“He also expressed the United States’ deep concern that Azerbaijan’s establishment of a checkpoint on the Lachin Corridor undermines efforts to establish confidence in the peace process, and emphasized the importance of reopening the Lachin Corridor to commercial and private vehicles as soon as possible,” the statement added.

Azerbaijan’s presidential press office said in a statement later that “President Ilham Aliyev noted [that] Azerbaijan supports the peace agenda and that Azerbaijan had been the initiator of starting peace treaty talks and normalization of relations with Armenia.”

“With respect to setting up the ‘Lachin’ checkpoint on the Azerbaijan-Armenia border, President Ilham Aliyev said that the checkpoint had been set up in accordance with Azerbaijan’s sovereign rights and all international rules,” the statement from the Azerbaijani president’s press office reads.

“The Azerbaijani President underlined that the aim was to ensure control rather than restrict movement as passage is already allowed through the checkpoint,” the statement added.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna stated last Friday after a meeting with her Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan that Azerbaijan’s deployment of a checkpoint in the Lachin Corridor violates the agreements that Yerevan and Baku currently have in place.

Armenian Foreign Minister Mirzoyan stated on April 28 that Yerevan had no plans to hold talks with Baku about unblocking the Lachin Corridor, since this issue was settled under the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020.

The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh escalated on September 27, 2020. On November 9, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a joint statement on the full cessation of hostilities. The sides stopped at their positions at that moment, a number of districts went under Baku’s control, and Russian peacekeepers were deployed at the contact line and at the Lachin Corridor.

On December 12, 2022, a group of Azerbaijani activists claiming to be environmentalists blocked the Lachin Corridor, the only road connecting Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and the place where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily stationed.

Baku stated that blocking the road was not the goal of the protest and civilian vehicles could freely move in both directions. However, Yerevan slammed the activity as a provocation by the Azerbaijani authorities aimed at creating a humanitarian disaster in the unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Pashinyan pointed out that Nagorno-Karabakh was facing food shortages due to the blocking of the corridor. On December 14, Armenia requested that the European Court of Human Rights compel Azerbaijan to unblock the Lachin Corridor.

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