YEREVAN, JANUARY 11, ARTSAKHPRESS. UK Ambassador to Armenia John Gallagher says that the United Kingdom did not block the UN Security Council press statement that would advocate for the reopening of the Lachin Corridor.
In written comments for ARMENPRESS, Ambassador Gallagher said the UK worked in good faith through several rounds of negotiations to agree a text but unfortunately it was not possible to construct a statement that was acceptable to all members of the Security Council.
ARMENPRESS: Mr. Ambassador, during the discussion on the blocking of the Lachin Corridor by Azerbaijan at the session of the UN Security Council, the representative of France announced that they presented a draft statement on the topic, which, however, was not adopted. This was followed by reports that the United Kingdom, among other countries, had blocked the statement. Azerbaijan also thanked the United Kingdom, Russia, Albania and UAE for failing to accept the statement. How would you comment on this information?
Ambassador Gallagher: While I cannot comment on private conversations between members of the UN Security Council, the UK was part of discussions aimed at producing a statement that would advocate for the reopening of the Lachin Corridor. I want to emphasise that the UK did not coordinate with Russia, Albania and the UAE on this, and can confirm that the UK did not block the UNSC press statement.
We are extremely concerned about the humanitarian impact the closure of the road is causing and we have repeatedly called for it be reopened. We worked in good faith through several rounds of negotiations to agree a text but unfortunately it was not possible to construct a statement that was acceptable to all members of the Security Council.
ARMENPRESS: According to various reports, Azerbaijan has sold the right to exploit the mines of Nagorno Karabakh to the United Kingdom. How would you interpret this, considering that the Azerbaijanis blocking the corridor are protesting against the exploitation of these mines by Nagorno Karabakh?
Ambassador Gallagher: The agreement between the Anglo Asian Mining company and the government of the Republic of Azerbaijan is a private commercial matter. While Anglo Asian Mining is listed on the London Stock Exchange, the UK government does not own any shares in the company or sit on its management board.
The dispute over rights to natural resources is an illustration of why it is so important for both Armenia and Azerbaijan to engage with each other to achieve a sustainable and peaceful settlement to the conflict.
ARMENPRESS: For 29 days now, Azerbaijan has closed the Lachin Corridor, as a result of which Nagorno Karabakh’s population of 120,000 is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster. The calls of the international community to immediately unblock the corridor, as we can see, do not yield any results. What practical steps is the United Kingdom going to take to solve the problem and prevent the humanitarian disaster brewing in Nagorno-Karabakh? Is the question of applying sanctions against Azerbaijan being discussed with other international actors?
Ambassador Gallagher: The UK Government has made clear that blocking the Lachin corridor and disrupting gas supplies in winter risk severe humanitarian consequences. We continue to urge the governments of both Azerbaijan and Armenia to abide by all ceasefire commitments in good faith. This is consistent with our support for international efforts to facilitate a sustainable and peaceful settlement to the conflict. The Minister for Europe reinforced this position in calls with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers in September, in recent meetings with senior officials from both countries, and in meetings in London with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Ambassadors to the UK.
A lasting settlement can only be reached through peaceful, diplomatic means. The UK continues to support the internationally-led negotiation efforts that seek to secure stability and peace in the region.