YEREVAN, DECEMBER 24, ARTSAKHPRESS. State Minister of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) Ruben Vardanyan gave interviews through video-calls from Stepanakert to the French Marianne and La Vie newspapers to present the situation in Artsakh as a result of the blockade by Azerbaijan.
In the interview with Marianne, State Minister Vardanyan called for pressure against Azerbaijan to ensure the life of 120,000 Armenians on their own ancestral land. Vardanyan spoke about the Azeri provocations that preceded the blockade of Lachin Corridor, the only road connecting Artsakh with the outside world. The State Minister said that since the 44-Day War of 2020, Azerbaijan has been displaying a very aggressive conduct with the goal of achieving an exodus of Armenians from Artsakh, manifested with continuous military provocations, regular cut-off of gas supply and other incidents. Vardanyan said that despite these provocations, on October 30 the Armenians of Artsakh expressed their determination to stay in their ancestral homeland during a mass rally in Stepanakert, which shocked Azerbaijan.
Speaking about the fake environmental demands by Azerbaijan, Vardanyan said that if Azerbaijan is actually concerned over environmentalism then Artsakh is ready to accept an international commission of environmental experts delegated by the United Nations which would conduct a monitoring.
In response to a question about the possible options for resolving the situation, the State Minister said that international pressure can provide mandate to the Russian peacekeepers and force the opening of a humanitarian air corridor for food and medicine supply. “The problem is that we are surrounded from all sides by Azerbaijan, who will always find a pretext to block the road and harass us. The Stepanakert airport doesn’t function now because of Azerbaijani threats, but it is entirely ready for use. And we hope that Russia, the US and France will be able to reach an agreement and exert pressure on the corrupt regime of Azerbaijan,” Vardanyan said.
He added that “the world must know that the people of Artsakh are very strong and united, but they should feel that they are not alone in this fight which is waged for humanity.”
La Vie newspaper reported in its article that the Lachin Corridor is blocked since December 12 by Azerbaijani military operatives posing as environmental activists, which has caused an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.
In response to a question regarding the international community’s reaction to the situation, State Minister Ruben Vardanyan said that there’s been a bright example of double standards. “We are under attack from an autocratic, undemocratic regime, which doesn’t respect human rights in its country, which silences the media, and is involved in global-scale money laundering and corruption….But that regime hasn’t been subjected to any sanctions, while the international media and the international community are mostly silent. This indifference is horrifying.”
Asked whether peace with Azerbaijan is possible, Vardanyan said: “There’s been a lot of violence and deaths between our two peoples, and for many years hatred towards Armenians is being taught in Azerbaijani schools….Finding the path to peace will be a step by step, long process.”
Conveying a message to France in the interview, Vardanyan said that France displayed brotherly attitude for Armenians since the genocide. “I would simply like to ask the French people – do not allow the tragedy to happen for the second time. Don’t simply lend a helping hand for us in the future, prevent what could happen. It is always better to avoid disasters then to be forced to deal with them..”