“The conflict may deepen”: Armenian political scientist on the situation in NK
Consequences of Lachin corridor blockade
“People are on the brink of starvation. In other countries they dance, children have some expectations from Santa Claus, while our children are starving,” David Babayan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the unrecognized NKR, wrote on his Facebook page. He considers the blockade of the Lachin corridor “a challenge to the civilized world.”
According to Babayan, in order to prevent a humanitarian crisis international organizations should impose sanctions on Azerbaijan.
The Lachin corridor, the only road linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, has been closed for more than three weeks. There has been no significant outcome of negotiations between the sides. It is not known whether they are negotiating directly or through intermediaries, nor what options are being discussed.
According to political scientist Gurgen Simonyan, Armenia cannot go for a forceful solution, as this would be regarded as a provocation and war might resume. He also believes that the Russian peacekeeping contingent may use force if it chooses to do so.
Two more patients in critical condition brought to Armenia
In the morning it was reported that under Red Cross escort two more patients were brought to hospitals in Armenia.
Ten other patients in critical condition were brought to Armenia, including a four month old baby, again under Red Cross escort.
Armenian human rights activists and doctors claim that the blockade has violated the rights of NK residents to medical care. Medicines are lacking and scheduled operations are not performed. One man in critical condition died in the first of the week blockade owing to lack of transport.
Assessment of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh
The Armenian Foreign Ministry announced that the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, now in its twenty-fourth day, is getting worse:
- “There is a shortage of essential commodities, food and medicine,
- the risk of malnutrition is increasing,
- hundreds of families continue to be separated, being on different sides of the Azerbaijani blockade.”
“120,000 people have become prisoners,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It also says that “in front of the eyes of the whole world, Azerbaijan is forcing the population of Nagorno-Karabakh into forcible deportation, continuing its policy of ethnic cleansing.”
The Armenian Foreign Ministry goes on:
“Azerbaijan’s statements that the Lachin corridor is in fact open are completely groundless, as evinced by the fact that only Red Cross vehicles are allowed to transport a limited number of patients to the Republic of Armenia in the event of a life-threatening situation” .
Azerbaijan has blocked the Lachin corridor since December 12, citing environmental concerns and demanding monitoring at a local gold mine. Even though mining has been halted and international observers invited, the road remains closed.
120,000 people are on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, including 30,000 children, 20,000 elderly people and about 9,000 people with disabilities. Stocks of food, medicine and fuel are running out. Shops receive goods only from government funds.
Emphasis of the statement of the Armenian Foreign Ministry
The Armenian Foreign Ministry believes that “Azerbaijan is obliged to immediately open the Lachin corridor in accordance with the principles enshrined in paragraph 6 of the tripartite statement of November 9, 2020, according to which Azerbaijan guarantees the safety of the movement of citizens, vehicles and goods along the Lachin corridor.” The fact is emphasized that by blocking the corridor, Baku violates the obligations assumed by the tripartite statement. The obligations of the Russian side are also mentioned, which, according to the same document, assumed control of movement along the corridor.
“We also look forward to Russia’s concrete efforts aimed at eliminating this flagrant violation without any preconditions,” the statement said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs once again announced the need to send “an international fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and the Lachin corridor” to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground, as well as to ensure unimpeded access of the relevant UN structures.
It is reported that Armenia will continue to take steps to unblock the Lachin corridor and overcome the humanitarian crisis. The statement said that these steps will be taken in “all possible formats, including within the framework of the UN Security Council and international and regional structures.”
Reaction from Baku
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry considered the statements of official Yerevan “absolutely groundless” and noted that they are aimed at “misleading international partners and artificially escalating the situation”:
“Armenia is still interested in continuing illegal economic and other activities on the territory of Azerbaijan.”
Baku called on Armenia to refrain from actions against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and stop “aggressive political and military provocations.”
According to political scientist Gurgen Simonyan, the blocking of the Lachin corridor is “political blackmail with terrorist elements.” He says that negotiations should only be about unblocking the corridor and advancing the peace agenda.
“The region is on the brink of war. And this blackmail is a prelude to bargaining and tearing off as much as possible. We must show resilience and perseverance, do everything so that the issue is resolved without any concessions on our part,” he told JAMnews.
According to Simonyan, the Lachin corridor will open “under pressure from the international community to force Azerbaijan to fulfill its obligations.”
Simonyan believes that Russian peacekeepers, who have a mandate and the ability to even use force, can also exert pressure to resolve the issue, “it’s another matter whether they want to.”
“They are now waiting for Armenia to ask the world community, the UN to give the Russian peacekeeping forces an international mandate. And this will mean that the world, represented by the UN, recognizes the Russian Federation’s ontrol over Artsakh. And they are not inclined to this.
Based on all these circumstances, Simonyan believes that until the issue can be resolved, the conflict may even “deepen”:
“It only remains to send international monitoring groups to the region under the auspices of the UN. And then, if possible, invite an international peacekeeping mission, since Russia is unable to resolve the situation in its area of responsibility.”
Simonyan asserts that Baku is making a number of unacceptable demands, including
- ensuring the extraterritorial “Zangezur corridor”, as it is called in Azerbaijan, through the territory of Armenia,
- establishment of total control over the mining industry of NK.
Simonyan believes that international law provides only for moral rights and not preventative measures. In his opinion, the only mechanism that can force Turkey, Azerbaijan and Russia “to abandon the plan to start a military campaign against Armenia is the combat capability of the Armenian army.”
Consequences of the blockade of the Lachin corridor