January 18, 2023 - 17:36 AMT
U.S. says “gravely concerned” over continuing blockade of Karabakh

U.S. ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter says Washington is gravely concerned that Azerbaijan is keeping the Lachin corridor in Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) closed for a month now.

“The United States is gravely concerned that the Lachin corridor has now been obstructed for more than 30 days, creating critical shortages of food, medicine, and other supplies in Nagorno-Karabakh,” Carpenter said in response to the remarks of Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan.

“These facts are indisputable. We call on Azerbaijan and Russia to restore unhindered transit immediately in keeping with prior commitments, which clearly include guarantees, as you have quoted, for the “security of persons, vehicles and cargo moving along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.” The ongoing disrupted passage of private and commercial traffic on the Lachin road could have severe humanitarian consequences for the people living in Nagorno-Karabakh. We thank the ICRC for providing critical aid, and call on Azerbaijan to ensure the individual rights, safety, and well-being of the population living in this area are respected. All OSCE participating States have an obligation to protect the safety of persons on their territory without regard to ethnicity.”

Carpenter said he looks forward to a substantive discussion on the recommendations of the Polish Chair’s Needs Assessment Team under the stewardship of North Macedonia.

“The OSCE and its various institutions are well placed to assist Armenia and Azerbaijan based on our comprehensive approach to security and anchored in our values, principles, and commitments. We have an extensive toolkit that could be utilized in this conflict and we should discuss how we can do so. The United States calls on Azerbaijan and Armenia to reengage in meaningful negotiations to resolve their disputes. A comprehensive peace agreement is the only true path to long-lasting peace based on normalization of relations and mutual recognition. We also call on Azerbaijan and Armenia to investigate alleged atrocities and to hold perpetrators accountable,” he added.

“Mr. Chair, the United States looks forward to working with North Macedonia and the OSCE to improve security for all people in this region. We will continue to work with Azerbaijan and Armenia bilaterally, multilaterally through partners such as the European Union, and through international organizations like the OSCE to reach a comprehensive and sustainable settlement for this conflict.”

Supplies of electricity from Armenia to Karabakh were similarly blocked by Azerbaijan on January 10, leading to serious power shortages in the Armenian-populated territory. The resulting daily power cuts have hit particularly hard local residents using electricity to heat their homes. The absence of natural gas would only aggravate the problem.