Toivo Klaar, the European Union’s special representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia (file photo)

EU ‘Concerned’ Over Disrupted Gas Supply, Shootings In Nagorno-Karabakh

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By Siranuysh Gevorgian

TBILISI (RFE/RL) — The European Union (EU) is concerned over the latest ceasefire violations and the disruption of natural gas supply to Nagorno-Karabakh, a senior diplomat has told RFE / RL’s Armenian Service.

Toivo Klaar, the EU’s special representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, said on March 14 that these issues “will certainly be on the agenda” of his meetings in Yerevan where he has arrived to engage “in another series of high-level consultations. “

“The latest developments on the ground are indeed very worrying. I have had numerous conversations with representatives of both Yerevan and Baku over the past days on these issues. Obviously, these developments are of concern to the EU. It would be essential that the gas pipeline is repaired as soon as possible and that the shootings stop, “Klaar said.

The EU envoy also posted a message on Twitter, saying: “Back in Yerevan for two days of meetings. As the international environment has become more tense, the EU is more than ever committed to the goal of a peaceful and prosperous South Caucasus. “

For nearly a week now ethnic Armenian residents of Nagorno-Karabakh have been deprived of natural gas as the gas pipeline through which the fuel is supplied to the region from Armenia was damaged at a section passing through territory that has been controlled by Azerbaijan after the 2020 war. Authorities in Stepanakert accuse Azerbaijan of not allowing Nagorno-Karabakh maintenance workers to approach and repair the damaged pipeline to restore gas supplies vital for heating homes in Stepanakert and elsewhere in Nagorno-Karabakh amid subzero temperatures.

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What authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh and many human rights activists in Stepanakert and Yerevan describe as an unfolding humanitarian crisis has been accompanied by more ceasefire violations along the line of contact between ethnic Armenian forces and Azerbaijan’s military in Nagorno-Karabakh that both sides have blamed on each other. Armenia and Azerbaijan have also accused each other of escalating tensions along their border that remains un-demarcated since the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Last week, military authorities in Yerevan said that at least one Armenian soldier was killed and another wounded along the border with Azerbaijan. Authorities in Stepanakert said that one ethnic Armenian resident of Khramort was wounded as Azerbaijan opened mortar fire on the village in the east of Nagorno-Karabakh. Baku has denied any responsibility for both incidents.

On Friday, March 11, a spokesman for Armenia’s Foreign Ministry said that official Yerevan considered requesting that the co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group (the United States, France, and Russia) initiate peace talks between Yerevan and Baku.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, for his part, said the same day that Baku had passed to Yerevan a new “five-point proposal” for the normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. He said that official Yerevan had not yet responded to Azerbaijan’s proposal.

But in a statement issued on March 14, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry explained: The Republic of Armenia responded to the proposals of the Republic of Azerbaijan and applied to the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship to organize negotiations for the signing of a peace agreement between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan on the basis of the UN Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Helsinki Final Act.”

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