Speaking about the deepening humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh brought on by what Yerevan views as an illegal closure by Azerbaijan of the Lachin corridor, the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, Pashinian stressed that the Armenian-populated region haս been deprived of any commercial shipments since last December as well as any humanitarian supplies since the middle of June when Baku tightened its blockade at a checkpoint installed on the road in April.
Pashinian said that a convoy of about two dozen trucks with about 400 tons of humanitarian supplies, including flour, pasta, cooking oil, sugar, salt, medicines and some other basic products, that the Armenian government sent to Nagorno-Karabakh late last month still remains stranded in Armenia’s Syunik province not far from the Lachin corridor as Azerbaijan refuses to allow its passage.
He said there was no explanation to Azerbaijan’s banning humanitarian supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh “if we do not consider it within the context of Azerbaijan’s open policy of subjecting Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to a genocide.”
“To be more precise, the ban on the entry of humanitarian cargoes to Nagorno-Karabakh makes more trustworthy statements about the policy being carried out by Azerbaijan on subjecting Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians to a genocide,” the Armenian prime minister charged.
Pashinian said that there is a growing opinion among international experts that “Azerbaijan’s policy on causing a humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh by its illegal blockade of the Lachin corridor can be regarded from the point of view of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of December 9, 1948.”
Pashinian said that the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh caused by Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin corridor has deepened to the extent that “greater efforts need to be taken in the direction of providing an international legal assessment of the created situation.” He stressed that Azerbaijan continues to fail to comply with the order by the Criminal Court of Justice to restore “unimpeded” traffic through the Lachin corridor that was first issued in February and then reaffirmed in July.
“The best solution to the current situation is the removal of Azerbaijan’s illegal blockade of the Lachin corridor and the start of a dialogue between Stepanakert and Baku within the framework of an international mechanism,” Pashinian said.
“The Republic of Armenia, for its part, continues to reaffirm its commitment to the peace agenda and calls on official Baku to refrain from steps nullifying a historic opportunity for establishing peace,” the Armenian premier underscored.
Armenia and ethnic Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh view the Azerbaijani checkpoint in the Lachin corridor as illegal as they accuse Baku of violating a Moscow-brokered 2020 ceasefire agreement that places the vital route under the control of Russian peacekeepers.
Azerbaijan’s de facto blockade has resulted in severe shortages of food, medicine, and energy supply in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is home to about 120,000 ethnic Armenians.
Azerbaijan denies blockading Nagorno-Karabakh and offers an alternative route for supplies via the town of Agdam, which is situated east of the region and is controlled by Baku.
Ethnic Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh reject that offer, fearing that it could be a prelude to the region’s absorption into Azerbaijan.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh for decades. Some 30,000 people were killed in a war in the early 1990s that left ethnic Armenians in control of the predominantly Armenian-populated region and seven adjacent districts of Azerbaijan proper.
Decades of internationally mediated talks failed to result in a diplomatic solution and the simmering conflict led to another war in 2020 in which nearly 7,000 soldiers were killed on both sides.
The 44-day war in which Azerbaijan regained all of the Armenian-controlled areas outside of Nagorno-Karabakh as well as chunks of territory inside the Soviet-era autonomous oblast proper ended with a Russia-brokered ceasefire under which Moscow deployed about 2,000 troops to the region to serve as peacekeepers.
Tensions along the restive Armenian-Azerbaijani border and around Nagorno-Karabakh leading to sporadic fighting and loss of life have persisted despite the ceasefire and publicly stated willingness of the leaders of both countries to work towards a negotiated peace.