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Azerbaijan Urged To Honor Its International Commitments


The French Foreign Ministry building in Paris (file photo)
The French Foreign Ministry building in Paris (file photo)

France has called on Azerbaijan to fulfill its international obligations after Baku announced over the weekend the installation of a checkpoint at the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.

The move condemned in Yerevan and Stepanakert completes an effective blockade of the mostly Armenian-populated breakaway region that Baku considers to be part of Azerbaijan.

France, which along with Russia and the United States has for decades spearheaded international efforts to broker a solution to the protracted conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, has, in particular, urged Azerbaijan to implement interim measures regarding the Lachin corridor ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its decision earlier this year that Paris emphasizes is binding.

On February 22, the ICJ ordered the Azerbaijani government to “take all measures at its disposal to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin corridor in both directions.”

Armenia said on Monday it will turn to the ICJ on the matter of the Azerbaijani checkpoint in the Lachin corridor.

In its statement on April 23, the French Foreign Ministry stressed that the installation by Azerbaijan of a checkpoint at the entrance to the new road of the Lachin corridor “contradicts the obligations” assumed by Baku under the terms of the Russia-brokered 2020 ceasefire agreement and “damages the negotiation process.”

Paris calls for the restoration of the free movement of goods and people along the Lachin corridor, as well as for the uninterrupted supply of natural gas and electricity, the French ministry said.

The 2020 ceasefire agreement put an end to a six-week Armenian-Azerbaijani war over Nagorno-Karabakh in which nearly 7,000 soldiers were killed on both sides.

Earlier, the United States also said it was “deeply concerned that Azerbaijan’s establishment of a checkpoint on the Lachin corridor undermines efforts to establish confidence in the peace process.”

“We reiterate that there should be free and open movement of people and commerce on the Lachin corridor and call on the parties to resume peace talks and refrain from provocations and hostile actions along the border,” Vedant Patel, a principal deputy spokesperson at the U.S. Department of State, said in a press statement on Sunday.

U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Kristina Kvien reiterated Washington’s concern on April 24 as she visited a genocide memorial in Yerevan on a day when Armenians mark the 108th anniversary of the Ottoman-era massacre.

“As the United States said yesterday, we are deeply concerned about Azerbaijan’s decision to set up a checkpoint on the Lachin corridor. We find it unhelpful to the peace process. And what we are focusing on now is trying to get the parties to speak together, to come up with the solutions that are mutually agreed, and we will continue to support the peace process to try to move it forward,” said Kvien.

She stressed that the United States finds “any use of violence or any provocative act to be unhelpful to the peace process.”

The only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia has effectively been blockaded by Azerbaijan since December when a group of Azerbaijanis calling themselves environmental activists blocked traffic at a junction near the Azerbaijani-controlled Karabakh city of Shushi (Susa).

Azerbaijan has denied blockading the predominantly Armenian-populated region, citing the fact that vehicles of Russian peacekeepers as well as representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross have not been prevented from carrying humanitarian supplies to the region and transporting people needing medical care to Armenia.

In a statement issued on Sunday Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs defended the installation of a new checkpoint at what Baku says is sovereign Azerbaijani territory and pledged that “necessary conditions” will be created for “a transparent and orderly passage of Armenian residents living in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan” through the checkpoint in both directions.

Baku stressed that the control mechanism will be carried out in cooperation with the Russian peacekeeping force, which is deployed in the region under the terms of the 2020 ceasefire.

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