in Russian – https://aga-tribunal.info/un-16-8-2023/
Source: August 16, 2023
Movement through the Lachin Corridor — connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia and the rest of the world — must be reopened immediately, speakers told the Security Council today, as they called on both Armenia and Azerbaijan to refrain from the politicization of humanitarian aid to meet the civilian population’s needs and normalize relations for a future peace treaty.
Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations and Advocacy, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been unable to transport humanitarian assistance through the Lachin Corridor or other routes to the civilian population in the area where Russian peacekeepers were deployed for several weeks. Citing international humanitarian law that States parties must allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of such aid for all civilians in need, she stressed it was critical that ICRC’s delivery of humanitarian relief be allowed to resume through any available routes.
She also underlined that it is incumbent on the parties not to impede or politicize any principled humanitarian effort, noting that the Office will continue to engage with the parties on humanitarian access to meet the essential needs of civilians. The United Nations country teams in both Armenia and Azerbaijan are also maintaining open channels with the authorities in those countries to ensure a response to humanitarian needs, she reported.
In the ensuing debate, many speakers encouraged both parties to respect the commitments made under the 2020 trilateral agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation, normalize relations to lay the foundation for a future peace treaty and ensure that humanitarian aid and food be allowed to reach the population of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The representative of the United States, Council President for August, spoke in her national capacity to voice concern over the closure of the Lachin Corridor, adding that access to food, medicine and baby formula should never be held hostage. Accordingly, she called on Azerbaijan to restore free movement through the Corridor so commercial and humanitarian vehicles can reach the population of Nagorno-Karabakh.
In the same vein, Albania’s delegate called on both parties to delimitate, demine and demilitarize the border to provide the necessary sense of security to avoid accidents and incidents which — given the volatility of the situation — could quicky lead to heightened tensions and clashes.
Also calling for an immediate de-escalation of the situation, the representative of Malta highlighted the vulnerable situation of women and girls who are internally displaced or are in a refugee-like situation. They have limited access to education, employment, health care and housing and are inadequately protected from gender-based violence, she reported.
The representative of Ghana said the outcomes of mediation efforts — including the demarcation and delimitation of borders — will help reduce tensions, facilitate the normalization of relations and set the stage for negotiating a future Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty. “An open military confrontation and war serves no one’s interest,” he asserted, urging all parties to de-escalate the situation.
However, the representative of the Russian Federation, while highlighting the key elements of the trilateral agreements — including the delimiting and demarcating the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, with Moscow’s assistance — stressed that Armenian-Azerbaijani reconciliation is unthinkable without reliable security guarantees and the observance of the rights of the inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh. He pointed to his Government’s compromise-based proposal to de-escalate tensions, entailing the parallel opening of corridors through Aghdam and Lachin.
Nevertheless, said Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, Baku’s readiness to supply goods via the city of Aghdam should not be seen as an alternative to reopening the Corridor. Warning against politization of humanitarian access, he underscored that movement through the Lachin Corridor must be reopened immediately.
In that regard, Türkiye’s delegate, criticizing Armenia’s attempts to express politically motivated allegations regarding the Lachin Corridor, said Azerbaijan has been voicing concerns over the abuse of the Corridor for supplying armed groups and illegal mine exploitation in Karabakh for a long time. Feeling obliged to take measures on its own territory, Azerbaijan has observed humanitarian considerations during their implementation, he said, adding that medical evacuations through the road are possible.
Ararat Mirzoyan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, said that according to the trilateral statement, the Lachin Corridor shall remain under the control of the Russian Federation peacemaking forces. Yet in 2022, Azerbaijan blocked the Corridor under a fake pretext of environmental concerns. As a result, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh no longer receive 400 tons of essential goods daily. Condemning the use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare and warning against the “ethnic cleansing of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh”, he called for the immediate restoration of freedom of movement of persons, vehicles and cargo through the Corridor.
Rejecting such “groundless” allegations, Azerbaijan’s representative said Armenia is presenting as a humanitarian matter a provocative political campaign to undermine his country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Moreover, the recent decision by the International Court of Justice to reject Armenia’s request for an interim measure of the checkpoint’s removal dismissed that country’s allegations that the Lachin checkpoint is illegal. Immediately after the end of the war in 2020, Azerbaijan offered logistics and infrastructure to ICRC for the delivery of goods to the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. However, the Armenian side rejected and prevented the ICRC from delivering humanitarian assistance, he recalled.
“We encourage Armenia and Azerbaijan to continue to meet each other halfway,” said China’s delegate, highlighting recent mediation efforts which have demonstrated the political will of both countries to resolve issues peacefully through diplomatic means. Observing that “Armenia and Azerbaijan are neighbours”, he pointed out that it is in the fundamental interest of both countries to achieve common security and development through cooperation.