|By Golden - This PNG graphic was created |
with Medibang. See Credit below.
Trying to catch up with Caroline these days is at times a challenge for me, I have been providing parliamentary reserach and opinion / advice for over seven years and this website now in its fith year on voluntary basis.
Have included this below from House of Commons Library Parliamentary research team published 18th Jan 2023. Link at the end for the full report. Have done my best. (AH)
Closure of the Lachin Corridor and the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh
The Lachin C orridor is the only transport link between Armenia and the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Under the terms of the November 2020 ceasefire agreement, Russian peacekeepers patrol the corridor, while Azerbaijan is obliged to guarantee safe passage, in both directions, for civilians, vehicles and cargo.
In early December 2022 the Azerbaijani Ministry of Ecology made a statement suggesting that natural resources were being illegally mined in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and asked Russian peacekeepers to monitor the situation. Azerbaijani civilians blocked the Lachin Corridor in a protest which lasted for several hours until an agreement was reached between the Commander of Russia’s peacekeeping forces in the region and the Azerbaijani government to allow Azerbaijani officials to carry out inspections at the mines in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijani officials reportedly visited the mines on 10 December but were denied access by Armenia. In protest, on 12 December a group of Azerbaijani’s claiming to be environmental activists once again bypassed Russian checkpoints and set up tents on the main road effectively blocking the Lachin Corridor.
The Armenian government has accused Azerbaijan of being behind the protests which Russian peacekeepers have been unable to disperse.
In turn, Azerbaijan has accused Armenia of not only exploiting natural resources in the region but of using the road to move military hardware, including landmines, into Nagorno Karabakh and those areas which returned to Azerbaijan under the November 2020 ceasefire agreement. As such it suggests that the ongoing protests are the result of “the legitimate dissatisfaction of the Azerbaijani society against the mentioned illegal activities, and this position should be respected”. Azerbaijan has also insisted that it is Russian peacekeeping forces who are responsible for closing the Corridor and has called for border and customs checkpoints to be established.
The blockade has raised humanitarian concerns as food and medical supplies cannot get through to the approximately 120,000-strong Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh. Over 1,000 people, including hundreds of children are also reported to be stranded in Armenia, unable to return home.
In addition to the blockade of the Lachin Corridor, on 13 December Azerbaijan also cut off gas supplies to the Armenian enclave. The Azerbaijani state-owned gas firm Azeriqaz alleged the disruption was due to the bad weather and said repairs were ongoing. Gas supplies were subsequently reinstated on 16 December.
Despite the resumption of gas supplies, fuel, medicine and basic goods are now reported to be running low and the local authorities in Nagorno-Karabkah have imposed price controls and rationing. The Armenian Foreign Minister, Ararat Mirzoyan has accused Azerbaijan of seeking to “subject the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to ethnic cleansing” by its actions, a view shared by a number of non-governmental organisations.
Azerbaijani officials have, however, said that Armenian allegations of a humanitarian blockade of the Lachin Corridor was “fake news” and that the free movement of humanitarian cargo along the road has been ensured.
Response of the international community
Europe Minister, Leo Docherty, has said that blocking the Lachin Corridor and disrupting gas supplies in winter risks “severe humanitarian consequences” and has called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to respect their ceasefire commitments and negotiate a lasting peace settlement.
The EU has also called on the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure freedom and security of movement along the Lachin Corridor and said that ongoing concerns should be addressed through dialogue and consultation.
The US State Department has called on Azerbaijan to restore freedom of movement and resolve its issues through peace process negotiations.
On 15 December the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed concern over the blocking of the Lachin Corridor and called it “unacceptable” to create problems for the civilian population in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Photo Credit - By Golden - This PNG graphic was created with Medibang., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=96365653