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Armenia calls on allies to help get aid to Nagorno-Karabakh during tensions with Azerbaijan

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, right, and Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, centre, meet in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, July 25, 2023. [Maxim Shipenkov | Pool Photo via AP]

Armenia’s authorities on Friday called on the country’s international allies to put pressure on Azerbaijan after accusing it of carrying out a three-day blockade of humanitarian aid to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The accusations mark another flashpoint in the tense relationship between Armenia and Azerbaijan which have fought over the breakaway region for decades.

The Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister, Vahan Kostanyan, accused Azerbaijan of blocking the so-called Lachin Corridor and demanded international allies step in to allow 19 trucks with 400 tons of humanitarian aid to pass. According to Armenian authorities, the trucks have been stuck there since the evening of July 26.

“The additional pressure of our international partners on Baku is very important. We have heard statements from our various colleagues, but we don’t think this is enough,” he said.

Kostanyan previously also accused Azerbaijan of ignoring a ruling by the International Court of Justice ordering Azerbaijan authorities to ensure unimpeded movement in the Lachin Corridor, the only road from Armenia into Nagorno-Karabakh.

The ongoing dispute over the road has impeded food supplies to the region and aggravated tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which have fought two wars since the end of Soviet rule.

Nagorno-Karabakh had substantial autonomy under the Soviet Union and came under control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by the Armenian military in 1994 at the end of years of separatist fighting. Armenian forces also took sizable territory surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh itself.

In 2020, Azerbaijan regained most of that surrounding territory and pieces of Nagorno-Karabakh itself in a war which killed about 6,800 soldiers. Under a Russia-brokered armistice, transit along the Lachin Corridor was to continue under the guarantee of Russian peacekeepers.

According to Armenian media, trucks and foreign diplomats are currently in the village of Kornidzor on Armenia’s border with Nagorno-Karabakh, which is at one end of the Lachin Corridor.

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said that it viewed Armenia’s attempt to send a convoy to Nagorno-Karabakh “under the guise of ‘humanitarian aid’” as a violation of Azerbaijan’s “territorial integrity and sovereignty.” Azerbaijan also accuses Armenia of smuggling weapons into Nagorno-Karabakh.

The latest flare-up comes weeks following talks in Brussels and Washington aimed at calming tensions between the two countries after Azerbaijan opened a checkpoint on the Lachin Corridor in April. At that point, the road had already been blocked for four months by demonstrators who were protesting what they claimed to be illegal mining and other ecological abuses by Armenians in the area.


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