German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock pointed to “disastrous” humanitarian consequences of the blockade after talks held with her visiting Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan.
“The supermarket shelves [in Karabakh] are almost empty, medication is lacking... family members are stuck in Armenia and can't get back to their loved ones, schoolchildren have to freeze in these icy temperatures because the energy supplies are cut off," Baerbock told a joint news conference in Berlin.
“It is essential that the blockade of the Lachin corridor end immediately, and we believe that Azerbaijan and Russia must fulfill their obligations,” she said. “
Baerbock clearly alluded to the terms of the Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement that stopped the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war in Karabakh. The agreement placed the corridor under the control of Russian peacekeepers and committed Baku to ensuing safe passage through it.
The European Union as well as the United States and Russia have repeatedly called for the reopening of the road blocked by Azerbaijani government-backed protesters on December 12.
The Azerbaijani government has dismissed these appeals, saying that the protesters are right to demand that it be allowed to inspect “illegal” mining in Karabakh. This stance has led some members of the European Parliament to call for EU sanctions against Baku. The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, ruled out such sanctions last week.
The EU has been looking for alternative suppliers of natural gas and oil since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Its executive body, the European Commission, signed last July a deal with Azerbaijan to double imports of Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe by 2027. Speaking during the signing ceremony in Baku, the commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, described Azerbaijan as a “key partner in our efforts to move away from Russian fossil fuels.”
Baerbock insisted that this does not mean the EU will “ignore human rights” in its dealings with Baku.