Armenia at OSCE raises Azerbaijan’s continuous demands

Armenia at OSCE raises Azerbaijan’s continuous demands

PanARMENIAN.Net - Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan on Tuesday, January 17 delivered remarks at the special session of the OSCE Permanent Council initiated by Yerevan and raised Azerbaijan’s continuous territorial claims against Armenia.

His speech reads, in part:

I wish I could have come here to the PC to talk about the achievements of Armenia in strengthening its democracy, human rights and the rule of law and the process of successfully implementing large-scale reforms from judiciary to police, from fighting corruption to improving social cohesion and justice. And believe me, I would have many things to say.

Unfortunately, the security crisis and challenges following the war of aggression by Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 and the subsequent aggression and occupation by Azerbaijan of the sovereign territory of Armenia threaten the Armenian democracy undermining the efforts of the Armenian government towards bringing peace, stability and security to the South Caucasus region.

Since this is the first time that the Foreign Minister of Armenia addresses the Permanent Council following the 44-day war of aggression and occupation of Armenia’s territory I would like to briefly reflect on the impact that this large-scale unprecedented use of force for the settlement of conflict have had in terms of perception of the OSCE, its principles and commitments, and its concept of comprehensive and indivisible security.

The 44-day war of aggression was accompanied by war crimes and widespread violations of international humanitarian law, targeting of civilian population and infrastructure, destruction of cultural heritage, which were not properly investigated and no one has been held accountable.

Throughout decades, the OSCE has been developing a set of tools, or the toolbox, aimed at early warning and conflict prevention. Unfortunately, it pains me to say this, but we have to recognize that the OSCE failed to apply this toolkit effectively and in a timely manner.

Furthermore, the absence of proper and robust reaction resulted in the impunity for the use of force as means of conflict settlement, in violation of the OSCE principles, commitments enshrined in its basic documents, leading to the legitimation of violence in the interstate and intrastate relations.

Following the signing on the 9 November 2020 of a trilateral statement on the cessation of armed hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh Armenia spared no efforts to achieve a normalization of relations with Azerbaijan and address the rights and security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. Unfortunately, the Azerbaijani side, instead of engaging in good faith into the negotiations, continues its destructive policy. Immediately after signing the Trilateral statement the Azerbaijani side violated the commitment on complete ceasefire and cessation of all military operations and launched an attack on Nagorno-Karabakh, which resulted in capturing of two more villages and the captivity of the Armenian servicemen. In May and November 2021 as well as in September last year the Azerbaijani side launched an aggression against the Republic of Armenia occupying around 150 sq km of the sovereign territories of Armenia. Today, with the blockade of the Lachin corridor the Azerbaijani side created a humanitarian crisis with far going intentions.

On 12 December 2022, a group of Azerbaijanis claiming to be environmental activists blocked the Lachin Corridor, the lifeline, the only road linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia and the rest of the world, thus effectively isolating the 120 thousand people in Nagorno-Karabakh, 30 thousands of which are children. Over 1000 people, including 270 children, are unable to return home to Nagorno-Karabakh. Some of those children are separated from their parents and were temporarily sheltered in Armenia.

From the very beginning, it was obvious that this blockade was a preplanned action directed and financed by the Azerbaijani authorities, using the cover of so-called “eco-activists” for plausible deniability. These actions of Azerbaijan constitute an overt breach of paragraph 6 of the 9 November trilateral statement, which clearly indicates and I quote: “The Lachin Corridor shall remain under the control of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation; the Republic of Azerbaijan shall guarantee safe movement of citizens, vehicles and cargo in both directions along the Lachin Corridor.”

For more than a month now, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh remain under factual siege. Food, medical and energy supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh are almost completely halted. About 400 tons of essential goods, including grain, flour, rice, vegetables, fruits, medicines, and baby formula, were imported to Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia daily. After around five weeks of the blockade, there is a severe shortage of all essential goods.

Moreover, the deliberate 3-day interruption of the gas supply in freezing winter conditions, followed by ongoing disruptions of the electricity grid and telecommunication lines in the entire territory of Nagorno-Karabakh are another evidence of preplanned actions of the Azerbaijani authorities. This severely impacts the daily life of the people and leads to a number of adverse humanitarian consequences, such as lack of electricity, disruption of the educational process at the schools; disruption of the work of state agencies and of the heating of vitally important institutions such as hospitals, disruption of businesses. People are deprived of heating and hot water. The authorities introduced the rationing of fuel, and now of food and essential goods.

The humanitarian crisis is worsening with each passing day and requires the immediate and targeted intervention of the international community. We cannot stand by and watch how people are slowly starving to death, because of political games and perhaps geopolitical considerations. The time to act is now.

At the request of Armenia, this issue has been discussed at the UN Security Council. We have briefed the members of the Security Council and also the Secretary-General about the dire situation and urged our partners to step in and stop the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe.

Of course, I could not but welcome the unambiguous statements and positions of our partner countries calling Azerbaijan to immediately and without preconditions lift the blockade and ensure the free and unimpeded movement through the Lachin Corridor. I believe that we should increase the pressure on Azerbaijan for it to comply with its own commitments. Azerbaijan should face consequences for its actions.

The blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh is not an isolated episode but must be seen as part of a widespread and systematic policy of Azerbaijan aimed at the ethnic cleansing of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh: through creating unbearable living conditions, Azerbaijan aims to coerce the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to leave their native land, leave their homes. The recent statement of the President of Azerbaijan suggesting the deportation of those Armenians who do not want to become citizens of Azerbaijan comes to prove their intention of ethnic cleansing.

We understand that nowadays the OSCE is not having the best of days and the situation in the South Caucasus is not the only crisis that the Organization is facing. At the same time, we believe that all conflicts in the area of OSCE responsibility should have the adequate attention of the organization and its structures. The OSCE with the Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group has been involved in the political resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict from the very beginning. Despite all the challenges the Group still has a responsibility as the political resolution of the conflict is yet to be achieved.

We believe that OSCE can play an instrumental role not merely in achieving but also sustaining peace through the involvement of its structures.

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