Ten more aid trucks near Lachin corridor: Paris puts pressure on Baku
Ten more aid trucks near Lachin corridor
“What is happening today in Nagorno-Karabakh is akin to genocide. We call on the French President to use the position the country holds in the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution on the Karabakh issue,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said.
She arrived in Armenia together with a representative delegation, whose members accompanied the French humanitarian aid intended for the Armenians of the unrecognized NKR. The Mayor of Paris regards the blockade of 120,000 people by Azerbaijan as a blatant attempt of ethnic cleansing. She announced that the French delegation “came to witness and condemn what is happening”.
At the time of publication, there was no information about the possibility of unblocking the Lachin corridor, and it is not clear whether the aid will be delivered to its destination.
For more than a month, trucks carrying 400 tonnes of humanitarian aid sent to help Karabakh Armenians by the Armenian government have been idling near the Lachin corridor. The only road linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia has been blocked since last December. Azerbaijan has banned all humanitarian transport since 15 June. In return, Baku offers aid through its territory, via Agdam. The day before, the Azerbaijani authorities sent 40 tonnes of flour to help the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. However, they refuse to accept aid from Azerbaijan and consider the operation of the Agdam route instead of the Lachin corridor unacceptable.
“They brought everything that will allow us to hold out and endure.”
This is not the first such initiative by France. On 9 August, a truck with humanitarian aid from French cities and regions joined the Armenian convoy idling at the entrance to the Lachin corridor. Now they have been joined by 10 more trucks with aid sent from Paris, as well as the regions of Ile-de-France, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Hauts-de-France, Occitanie and Loire.
“The lorries contain food, milk powder, baby food, as well as generators, solar panels – everything that will allow you to hold out and endure,” the Paris mayor said.
She stressed that French figures of different political views have arrived in Armenia, but all of them are united by sympathy for Armenia and the unrecognized NKR:
“The message is clear and precise: first of all, we call for respect for international law. The people of Artsakh are being blockaded against their will, and this is being done in violation of international law, as well as the declaration on the cessation of hostilities signed in 2020.”
The French Foreign Minister, while addressing a conference of ambassadors accredited to France, said: “The strangulation strategy aimed at provoking the mass emigration of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh is illegal, as the UN International Court of Justice has already determined. This policy is, moreover, immoral.” Catherine Collona stressed that France will mobilise forces to establish a just and stable peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan. According to her, “this will allow NK Armenians to live in their homeland with respect for its rights, culture and history”.
Anne Hidalgo and members of the delegation with her toured the area leading from the Armenian village of Kornidzor, where trucks with humanitarian aid are parked, to the Lachin corridor. The French also visited the humanitarian headquarters, which opened here hours earlier. Foreign journalists and other interested visitors will be able to come here and familiarize themselves with the situation.
The French delegation was also accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the unrecognized NKR Sergey Ghazaryan. He presented to the Mayor of Paris “the humanitarian situation that has reached a critical point”.
“An open-air prison, a concentration camp.”
A press conference was held in Kornidzor, where the delegation from France arrived, during which the they expressed their opinions on the blockade.
Brief statements by the delegation members:
- “Azerbaijan wants to turn Nagorno-Karabakh into a prison and chase away its inhabitants. A prison, even a cell, a cage. We want people to live there freely.”
- “There are other problems in Europe, and we all support Ukraine, but there is a tragedy going on here as well. We are all on the side of Armenia and Artsakh.”
- “Do we have to wait for a few more days, a few more weeks, a few more months, do we have to wait for hundreds of victims for the international community to finally wake up? This tragedy can be avoided.”
- “It would have been better if Mrs Ursula von der Leyen [European Commission president] had not signed the gas agreement with Azerbaijan, an agreement on gas that partly comes from Russia. This literally means supporting Aliyev, who persecutes, expels Armenians from their homeland.”
- “Azerbaijan’s policy of starving people and forcing them to leave their homes in the 21st century is unacceptable.”
- “Our goal is to force French diplomacy to get out of its comfort zone and start working”.
- “Just as we treat Putin, we should treat Aliyev”.
Prior to the press conference, the president of the unrecognized republic, Araik Harutyunyan, welcomed the delegation arriving from France via video link:
“Artsakh will not forget the friends who support it. We will fight as long as we can endure, though we have no expectations from the world, superpowers, international structures. Azerbaijan will not be able to bring the people of Artsakh to their knees by exerting humanitarian pressure”.
One loaf per family
Since mid-June, food, medicine and basic necessities have not been delivered to the territory of NK. The available meagre stocks are running out. On the eve it was reported that the volume of bread production has decreased, a decision was made to provide each family with one loaf.
“Work is underway to procure maize flour and produce bread from it, but due to rainfall, large-scale maize harvesting has been postponed for several days,” according to the local Information Headquarters.
Earlier, the President of the unrecognized NKR also touched upon the current situation: “The cause of every third death is malnutrition. Hunger, lack of everything necessary, as a result, pregnant women lose their children. We have reached this point because we believed in everybody, in superpowers, in the UN”. Araik Harutyunyan emphasized that the “bread problem” should be solved in a very short time, within a few days.
Adviser to the State Minister of the unrecognized republic Artak Beglaryan, commenting on the food situation, said:
“The Azerbaijani side suddenly became “humanistic” and organised a “cheap show”. As a result of their genocidal policy, they waited until the shortage of flour in Artsakh reached a critical level and thousands of families would be left without bread at all, after which they sent flour to Akna (Aghdam) by Red Crescent lorries, ostensibly to ‘help’ the people of Artsakh”.
Baku’s condition is opening the Agdam road
Speaking to the BBC, Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmet Hajiyev said that Karabakh Armenians were offered the same linguistic, cultural, religious and municipal rights as other Azerbaijani citizens. Regarding Baku’s proposal to supply food via the Agdam route, he said:
“The more roads, the better for everyone. In 24 hours after the opening of the road through Agdam, the Lachin road will also be opened.”
Earlier, in a telephone conversation with the French President, the Azerbaijani President put forward the same condition. Ilham Aliyev noted that after the opening of the Agdam route, the road from Armenia to Karabakh “can also be used in compliance with the rules of customs and border regime of Azerbaijan”.
“There is a clear decision not to open the Aghdam road”
Speaker of the parliament of the unrecognized NKR David Ishkhanyan said at a press conference held this morning that the Aghdam issue has been actively discussed in the last three weeks:
“The use of this road is unacceptable for the Artsakh authorities. We have only one road with the status of a corridor [Lachin corridor], we should not allow the introduction of a second corridor. There is a clear decision not to open the Agdam road”.
The previous day Azerbaijan had sent trucks with 40 tonnes of flour to Agdam. Karabakh Armenians were on night duty on the road to prevent the cargo from entering. Employees of the Red Crescent Society, who were entrusted with transporting the cargo, stayed on the road, spending the night in tents near the Russian peacekeepers’ base.
Baku says it is negotiating on the issue with Russian peacekeepers. However, videos appearing on social networks show peacekeepers blocking part of the road where the Azerbaijani lorries are parked with barbed wire and concrete barriers.
According to Ishkhanyan, Baku is making “another provocative step” and trying to show the world that it is doing its best and caring about the needs of Karabakh Armenians:
“Pursuing political goals, they are trying to show the world that they have an internal problem and the humanitarian crisis in Artsakh cannot be in any way related to the outside world.”
He stressed that the Azerbaijani side sent the flour trucks with Red Crescent staff, and not accompanied by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which also has a representative office in Baku:
“This is not accidental. Azerbaijan with its Red Crescent is trying to displace the Stepanakert office of the Red Cross, an international organisation that has been present in Artsakh for 30 years and operates directly under the authority of Geneva”.
10 more aid trucks near Lachin corridor: Paris pressure on Baku