STEPANAKERT, JANUARY 23, ARTSAKHPRESS. Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) President Arayik Harutyunyan’s advisor for international relations Nelly Baghdasaryan commented on the international response and its effectiveness to the Azeri blockade of Artsakh, the goals pursued by Azerbaijan and other issues in an interview with ARMENPRESS.
ARMENPRESS: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently announced that the Russian peacekeeping contingent, which is authorized to control traffic along Lachin Corridor under the trilateral statement, has all capabilities to check means of transportation. Please comment on the message of this announcement, especially taking into account the following terming: “The peacekeeping contingent has all possibilities to check means of transportation”.
Baghdasaryan: The key question after the Russian Foreign Minister’s wording regarding the corridor during the blockade is the following: is it possible to achieve unblocking with the influence of the Russian side and without preconditions within the framework of Russia’s obligations assumed on 9 November 2020? According to the sequence of the latest discussions, a Lavrov-Bayramov phone talk took place on January 17, during which the Russian FM emphasized “the need for a swift and full unblocking of traffic along the Lachin Corridor in line with parameters stipulated in the 9 November 2020 high-level trilateral statement”, and during the January 18 press conference summarizing 2022 Sergey Lavrov cited this phone call. He reaffirmed Russia’s duties assumed under the trilateral agreement to check traffic and means of transportation. At the same time, the Russian foreign minister to some extent shifted the center of mass of the crisis resolution to the Azerbaijan-Artsakh arena of resolution: the minister said that “the representatives of Azerbaijan had meetings with representatives of Karabakh with participation of the Russian contingent’s commander”. According to a statement released by the Artsakh Security Council on January 18, the January 15 communication with the Azerbaijani side in the direction of reopening the corridor didn’t give any result. Instead of unblocking, Azerbaijan is now developing the toolbox of an attrition strategy, pursuing the goal to force Artsakh into concessions. The blockade recorded a status quo in a negative sense. Practically, only punitive and suppressive mechanisms against Azerbaijan can make them return to the November 9 document without dictating preconditions.
ARMENPRESS: How realistic is the lifting of the blockade by the influence of the international community and the centers of power? In general, what attitude by the international community towards this inhumane act by Azerbaijan have you recorded? Are assessments and statements alone enough? In your opinion, what can contribute to the resolution of the issue in practice?
Baghdasaryan: The issue recorded a high level of internationalization. We appreciate the international sympathy and work which is being done in the direction of forming the objective political package of Artsakh’s total blockade resulting from the closure of the Lachin corridor. The document package formed around the blockade must edit the approaches of the centers of power who were offering Artsakh coexistence with Azerbaijan. The new conceptual approaches for conflict resolution must be built on the basis of respect for the Artsakh people’s right to self-determination. From the very first days of the blockade the international community has been condemning and calling for an immediate elimination of the blockade of Nagorno Karabakh, the UNSC meeting was especially important, and the speeches voiced there, but I find the absence of a consensus statement to be a regrettable mistake by the international community. I attach importance also to the substantial speeches at the OSCE Permanent Council Special Meeting on January 16-17. If I try to generally point out the speeches of the US, French and Russian Permanent Representatives at the OSCE, also as Co-Chairs, they called for adherence to the 9 November 2020 trilateral agreement, immediately and unconditionally restore free and safe movement along Lachin Corridor and not worsen the humanitarian crisis. The ECHR’s coherence was important in urgently notifying the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on the decision regarding the unblocking of the Lachin Corridor. In the European arena the latest important record was the January 18 European Parliament’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) 2022 Annual Report resolution wording regarding the blockade of Lachin Corridor by Azerbaijan. On January 19 the European Parliament adopted the Humanitarian Consequences of the Blockade in Nagorno Karabakh condemning resolution. These international discussions and pressures, the huge work, are certainly highly appreciated by us, but as long as the blockade continues we can’t find them to be sufficient. The course of appeasing Azerbaijan, which was being conducted since 2020, must transform into a course of practical suppression through the tools of international sanctions.
ARMENPRESS – In general, what minimum and maximum goals does Azerbaijan pursue by keeping the Lachin Corridor closed under the false environmental pretext?
Baghdasaryan: “Artsakh without Armenians” – this is Azerbaijan’s maximum calculation in the issue of Artsakh, there are no minimum calculations. Azerbaijan has chosen a strategy of bloodless attrition of Artsakh. The combination of Azerbaijan’s Armenophobic actions includes a policy of creeping ethnic cleansings, creeping occupation and terrorism. The 120,000 population of Artsakh is in conditions of a humanitarian disaster, our main and key concern are the 30,000 children who are under blockade, who are experiencing the psychological, social and physical consequences of the blockade more acutely. The infamous incident when a group of children from Artsakh returning home from Goris with Russian peacekeepers were subjected to an organized psychological violence by Azerbaijanis must be condemned in international legal arenas.