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Armenia calls on UN Security Council to demand Azerbaijan to lift blockade of Lachin Corridor, send UN mission

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EDITOR'S CHOICE

Armenia is urging the UN Security Council to demand Azerbaijan to fully respect the provisions of the Trilateral Statement of 9 November 2020, to immediately and unconditionally unblock the Lachin corridor by removing all obstacles for the safe, secure and unimpeded transport communication, to deploy a UN fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and Lachin corridor to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground and to ensure unimpeded humanitarian access of the UN agencies in Nagorno-Karabakh, Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations Mher Margaryan said at the UN Security Council Emergency Meeting.

Below is the full transcript of Margaryan’s speech:

“Mr. President,

I would like to express appreciation to the Indian presidency for convening today’s emergency meeting. The urgency of the matter is due to the situation of an evolving humanitarian crisis created by Azerbaijan as a result of imposing an illegal blockade on the population of Nagorno-Karabakh, in direct breach of the existing commitments, in particular, the Trilateral Statement of 9 November 2020, as well as its international obligations emanating from the fundamental principles of international human rights and humanitarian law.

Since 12 December, the safe passage of people, food and medicine to the population of Nagorno-Karabakh has been essentially denied, as Azerbaijan initiated a massive campaign of state-sponsored protests along the Lachin corridor, blocking the one and only supply route in and out of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan’s actions constitute a direct violation of the Trilateral Statement of 9 November 2020, namely, its paragraph 6, which stipulates that the Lachin Corridor shall provide a connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, remaining under the control of the Russian Federation peacekeeping forces, and that “the Republic of Azerbaijan shall guarantee safe movement of citizens, vehicles and cargo moving along the Lachin Corridor in both directions”.

By orchestrating an unlawful blockade of the Lachin Corridor under the made-up pretext of environmental concerns, Azerbaijan has effectively targeted a population of 120,000 people by isolating them in precarious humanitarian conditions during the winter season.

The blockade of this critical humanitarian lifeline has resulted in multiple disruptions and adverse experiences. At least 1,100 civilians have been stranded along the blocked highway for the past week, unable to return to their homes. Children have been separated from their families. Provision of healthcare and social services has been obstructed, causing life-threatening situations and human suffering. The transfer of patients for urgent treatment in the Armenian hospitals has become impossible, which has already resulted in fatality of a critically ill patient.

Since 12 December, there has only been a single case of transferring one patient – an operation, which required cooperation among multiple stakeholders, including the peacekeepers and the ICRC. This clearly indicates that the corridor remains closed for the population, and not otherwise, as suggested by the Azerbaijani side. Shortage of food and other essential goods has already been reported, as 4000 tons of supplies remain undelivered to the destination. The medieval siege of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh came to be exacerbated by the disruption of the gas supply for three consecutive days in severe winter conditions. Lack of heating effectively disrupted all schooling processes, depriving children of their basic right to education.

Mr. President,

The alarming situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is close to turning into a humanitarian catastrophe.

Despite the efforts of the peacekeeping forces on the ground, the negotiations of the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities with the Azerbaijani side with the aim to restore the safe and unhindered operation of the corridor so far have not yielded any results.

The coordinated character of the actions of Azerbaijan, including the preceding incidents targeting civilian population and critical infrastructure, are yet another evidence that the closure of the Lachin corridor is, indeed, a pre-planned operation being implemented by the authorities of Azerbaijan with the intention to inflict harm upon the civilian population and to create a large-scale humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The claims that Azerbaijan has not put any restriction on the Lachin corridor, as disseminated by their authorities, are simply false and reflect the usual victim-blaming approach of that country in an attempt to deny their own responsibility for the grave violations of the existing international obligations. Any reference to an environmental concern of any sort is nothing short of a bogus pretext to justify further deprivation of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh of their means of subsistence and to deny their fundamental rights, in grave violation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, along with the other fundamental international instruments.

Ironically, it is a well-established fact that, when it comes to matters of civil and political liberties, Azerbaijan maintains one of the lowest rankings of democracy in the world, with a proven track record of oppression of protests and with dozens of political prisoners punitive for the right to assembly. The suggested idea, therefore, that there could be civil society activists out there, in Azerbaijan, capable of launching a campaign of a similar size and scope without direct guidance and supervision of the state authorities is implausible, to say the least. In fact, under the environmental pretexts, the so-called protesters have been on the record of raising demands, which are incompatible with the Trilateral Statement of 9 November.

Mr. President,

It should be noted that the ongoing blockade of the Lachin Corridor is not just one isolated case but yet another demonstration of systematic violence masterminded by the Azerbaijani authorities with the aim to subject the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to ethnic cleansing.

Earlier this year, we informed the member states about the deliberate disruption of the gas supply by Azerbaijan to Nagorno-Karabakh, which lasted for several weeks in harsh weather conditions. We also brought it to the attention of the members of the Council that Azerbaijan has been consistently resorting to violence targeting the Armenian civilians, including those performing agricultural activities, as well as the psychological pressure imposed on the population of border communities with the use of loudspeakers, and the state-sponsored cyber-attacks. Furthermore, as a result of the Azerbaijani offensive operation, Parukh village of Nagorno-Karabakh was ethnically cleansed.

To pre-empt the upcoming batch of counter-accusations from the representative of Azerbaijan, regarding the so-called “environmental concerns”: if Azerbaijan is interested in an independent assessment of the environmental situation, then, consideration could be given to deploying a UN fact-finding mission to examine the issue.

As far as the issue of landmines is concerned, I would like to note that mining activity, if any, has been limited to the territory of Armenia, strictly for defensive purposes, as Azerbaijan not only threatens, on a regular basis, to use force against Armenia, but also continues to keep under illegal occupation more than 140 sq km of the sovereign territory of my country.

Indeed, had Azerbaijan been genuinely interested in a comprehensive assessment of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, it would not be denying access to the international community to the region. I would like to recall that, both during and in the aftermath of the large-scale aggression of Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh in the fall of 2020, both Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh supported the visit of the UN interagency mission, led by the UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) with the involvement of other agencies to provide the United Nations, as well as the international community with a comprehensive picture of the humanitarian, security and human rights situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

To this day, the obstruction of the safe and unimpeded access of the international community to Nagorno-Karabakh has served the sole purpose of creating a conducive atmosphere, in which lies and fabrications can be conveniently sustained and cultivated. Once again, I would like to reconfirm Armenia’s readiness to facilitate humanitarian access to dispatch fact-finding missions on the ground.

Mr. President,

The collective pledge of leaving no one behind is yet to be fulfilled for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. As we speak, a population of 120,000 people, including women, children and elderly are being held hostage by Azerbaijan through a policy of state-sponsored intimidation of the civilians. Their representative is here today to offer a new portion of lies and accusations to cover up the gross and massive human rights violations under the pretext of protests organized by “civil society activists”.

Azerbaijan continues to disregard the Order of the International Court of Justice on the Provisional Measures issued under the Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination against Azerbaijan in December 2021 in relation to the humanitarian obligations vis-à-vis the Armenian POWs, as well as the need to address the pervasive anti-Armenian rhetoric, including at the level of public officials and institutions, among other measures.

The unabated provocations and aggressive actions of Azerbaijan have come to demonstrate that, in the absence of strong accountability measures, including application of sanctions, the aggressor will be encouraged to continue testing the resilience and the determination of the international community and of the Council in upholding the primary responsibility under the UN Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Mr. President,

Distinguished members of the Security Council,

The claims of Azerbaijan that it has resolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by massive use of force, abolished all collective rights of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and even eliminated the very name of this land populated by Armenians for millennia constitute clear warning signs of a pre-meditated genocidal policy. Azerbaijan claims that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which has been on the international agenda for the last 30 years, has become an internal issue, on which they can deliver domestically. The facts emanating from Azerbaijan’s actions, including the imposition of a blockade and infliction of a collective punishment on the entire population of Nagorno-Karabakh is an indication of the opposite. Continued involvement of the international community is the only possible way of guaranteeing the rights and security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.

We are cognizant of the fact that there can be deep-running disagreements among the members of the Council related to the ongoing major crisis in Europe. We are also aware that, because of the growing energy challenges, some members of the international community opt to engage more closely with a hydro-carbon exporting state of Azerbaijan. We are convinced, however, that such engagement cannot and should not put the values and principles of justice, humanity, dignity, and freedom on the line and, therefore, cannot be conducted at the expense of the fundamental human rights and physical security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Mr. President,

Under current circumstances, we urge the UN Security Council to take actions to:

Demand Azerbaijan to fully respect the provisions of the Trilateral Statement of 9 November 2020 and to immediately and unconditionally unblock the Lachin corridor by removing all obstacles for the safe, secure and unimpeded transport communication;

Deploy a fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and Lachin corridor to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground;

Ensure unimpeded humanitarian access of the UN agencies in Nagorno-Karabakh.Armenia calls on the Security Council to uphold its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, to take the appropriate measures, and to strongly condemn the aggressive actions of Azerbaijan posing an existential threat to the people of NK, to their right to live freely and in dignity without fear of outside oppression.

I thank you.”

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