The international community should take steps to stop the blockade of Nagorno Karabakh. Prime Minister's article for Le Monde
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s article has been published in the prestigious French periodical Le Monde. The full text of the article is presented below.
“On July 15 in Brussels, I met with European Council President Charles Michel and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. It is the latest in a long series of meetings held with Azerbaijan's President over the last four months in different forms and capitals. Armenia has proven by its deeds that there is a genuine will on the part of the government and people of Armenia to develop a lasting peace in the region, as well as improving relations with all our neighbors, and building stronger ties with the democratic world.
We do firmly believe that lasting peace in the South Caucasus could bring significant global benefits, as well. Over the last years Armenia has become a stable democratic country in a difficult region. Geographically we sit at a crossroads. If we succeed in achieving progress in our peace agenda normalising relations with our neighbors, establish solid transport and energy infrastructure, it will bring new prosperous prospects, build bridges between Asia and Europe, thus becoming a significant boon for global commerce and international stability.
Although the contours of a peace agreement are forming, there remain significant barriers to making it a reality. Overcoming decades long hurdles will only be possible with robust support from the partners truly interested in peace in the South Caucasus.
Right now, the biggest obstacle to peace are the aggressive and illegal actions of Azerbaijan around Nagorno-Karabakh and particularly in the Lachin corridor, also within Armenian borders. The Lachin corridor is the only road linking the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh with the outside world. Since December, access to the corridor was severely restricted by Azerbaijan, under the false pretext of an environmental protest. Now, Baku has gone further, installing a border checkpoint at the entrance to the corridor createing obstacles for ICRC. This means the supply of food, medicine, and basic necessities has disrupted, leading Amnesty International, the Human Rights Watch, European Parliament, Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe and a number of other influential institutions to warn of an unfolding humanitarian crisis.
As well as blocking access to people and vehicles, Azerbaijan is deliberately disrupting gas and electricity supply to Nagorno-Karabakh. These actions have coincided with increasingly aggressive rhetoric and propaganda, daily shootings of farmers working in the fields. The aim is clear: to make the life as difficult as possible for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, forcing them to flee their homes, commit textbook example ethnic cleansing. This will be another failure of humanity.
We are of an opinion that the international community should undertake bold steps to stop the Sarajevo-style siege of Nagorno-Karabakh. The blockade is another gross violation by Azerbaijan legally binding commitments and most importantly the numerous unequivocal decisions of the World’s Highest Court - the International Court of Justice, which has obliged Azerbaijan to “take all measures necessary to guarantee the uninterrupted movement of citizens, vehicles, and cargo in both directions through the Lachin Corridor in both directions”. However, five months have passed, and the situation has deteriorated further. This Order was reconfirmed by the Court on July 6. As the European Union has spoken clearly on unacceptability of Azerbaijanis actions, there is a need for more focused actions, use of leverages, as reliable energy partnership, with the authorities in Baku and convince them to implement the ICJ’s binding decision without delay. The European Parliament and number of national parliaments of the member states have adopted special decisions to this end.
The current crisis highlights why ensuring the rights and security of the 120,000 Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh is central to a sustainable peace in the South Caucasus. The European Union and other international partners have a vital role to play. There needs to be a formal dialogue between Baku and the democratically elected authorities in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. To be effective this requires the establishment of an international mechanism and guarantees from international partners to bring security and ensure obligations are fulfilled.
The issue of guarantees of rights and security of people living in Nagorno-Karabakh is a key question that should be addressed to reach dignified and durable peace in our region. Azerbaijan still refuses to recognise international borders, continues to occupy parts of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, and holds prisoners of war that they have committed to return yet in 2020. The authorities in Baku continue to use the threat of military escalation, and actually using force to achieve its irredentist aims. This shouldn't be tolerated and consequences must follow for consistent torpedoing of the peace process, undermining the peace efforts of mediators. Otherwise, Azerbaijani forces that have encircled Nagorno-Karabakh would think they are free to do anything they want. There are no lines they will not cross.
Armenia deeply values all the mediation and facilitation efforts by the EU, particularly the establishment of the EU mission in Armenia. This is performing a vital task in monitoring our international border with Azerbaijan, increasing stability on the ground, and helping build confidence with those living in border areas.
Strengthening relations with the European Union is among the main foreign policy goals of my government. The EU was founded on the principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. These are principles that are core to Armenia’s identity. The Armenian government and people have consciously pursued a path of political and institutional reforms to safeguard human rights, reinforce the rule of law, media freedom, and combat corruption. The tangible progress of Armenia in international rankings are the manifestation of our achievements and determination, and the EU’s support in these processes is very much appreciated.
This unwavering commitment to a democratic future has helped the Armenian people persevere through challenging times. It will continue to do so as we seek to forge a lasting peace in the region. Right now, there is a window of opportunity to reach such an agreement. The government of Armenia is committed to this process and has taken significant steps to achieve it. We now need the support of Europe and partners around the world to ensure that Azerbaijan also lives up to its commitments and legal obligations. If we succeed, this agreement can bring truly global benefits”.