"Baku intends to allow only the exit of people from Nagorno-Karabakh" - Pashinyan
Armenians leaving NK along the Lachin corridor
“We have received reliable information that Baku is developing a plan to open the Lachin corridor in one direction, i.e. to allow people to leave Nagorno-Karabakh but not to allow entry,” the Armenian Prime Minister said at a government session.
Nikol Pashinyan said that “as a result of illegal blocking of the corridor, 5 thousand people are still waiting for an opportunity to return to NK, another 30,000 became refugees as a result of the 44-day war.” According to him, they cannot return home “due to the non-implementation of the 7th point of the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020.” According to this paragraph of the document on the cessation of hostilities, they were supposed to return to NK under the control of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
On August 21, with the assistance of Russian peacekeepers, 41 people, Karabakhi Armenians and Russian citizens, were able to travel to Armenia through the Lachin corridor. This was the first travel authorization since June 14. It was reported that among them were students enrolled in Armenian and foreign universities.
The day before, Azerbaijani media reported that another 100 people received permission to travel to Armenia through the “Lachin” checkpoint. According to the “Turan” news agency, these were “ethnic Armenians who have Russian citizenship, as well as holders of Russian passports”.
“The humanitarian situation remains tense.”
Talking about the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, Pashinyan said that the situation remains tense. According to him, there is only one change in Baku’s position: with the assistance of the Red Cross and Russian peacekeepers, some movement has started along the Lachin corridor. Those “in need of medical treatment and other citizens” were able to leave for Armenia. It was in this context that the Prime Minister talked about movement along the corridor in one direction only.
“Illegal blocking of the Lachin corridor by Azerbaijan continues. About 400 tons of humanitarian cargoes sent to Nagorno-Karabakh by the Armenian government, the private sector [a private Armenian company] and France continue to wait at the entrance of the Lachin corridor.”
The Lachin corridor has been blocked since December 12, 2022, and since June 15, 2023, Azerbaijan has not allowed any humanitarian aid, food, medicine and basic necessities from Armenia.
The Armenian government has sent trucks with humanitarian aid. They have been waiting for almost a month for permission to pass into the territory of unrecognized NKR near the Armenian village of Kornidzor. France has also joined this initiative. However, Baku does not allow the aid to be delivered and says it is ready to ensure deliveries through its territory via Aghdam.
NK Armenians categorically rejected this possibility as soon as this proposal was made. Earlier, the Armenian media reported that the president of the unrecognized republic had discussed the issue with the parliament and talked about “pressure being put on the local authorities” regarding this issue. What decision was eventually made has not been revealed.
“A lot of NK residents can’t go home.”
Pashinyan emphasized that many residents of Nagorno-Karabakh, who found themselves in Armenia as a result of the blockade, as well as those who “became refugees as a result of the second Karabakh war in 2020,” cannot return to their homeland. According to official information, there are about 30,000 such people.
He raised the issue of implementation of the 7th point of the trilateral statement signed by the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. It provides for the return of “displaced persons and refugees to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent areas under the control of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.”
According to the Prime Minister, this means that “not only the Armenians of Martakert, Hadrut, a number of villages of Martuni, but also Getashen, Martunashen, Shahumian and other districts should be able to return to their homes in dignity and safety”. And the failure to fulfill this provision proves that “the main goal of Azerbaijan is to expel Armenians from NK through ethnic cleansing, whether by starvation, exhaustion, military operation or other means”.
“Baku torpedoes the dialog”
The Prime Minister also raised the issue of ensuring the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh and noted that Armenia’s position on this issue has not changed. Namely, these issues should be resolved through dialog between Baku and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh within the framework of an international mechanism.
At the same time, Pashinyan said that “Baku is constantly torpedoing the dialog with Stepanakert in various ways, trying to shift the responsibility to Nagorno-Karabakh”.
“We have sent new proposals to Azerbaijan”
The Armenian Prime Minister reiterated his commitment to the peace agenda. Regarding the possible signing of an agreement with Azerbaijan, he said:
“I have to inform that we have handed over to the Azerbaijani side our new proposals on the peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”
Armenians leaving NK along the Lachin corridor