Artsakh Foreign Ministry Issues Statement in Face of New Gas Cutoff


STEPANAKERT (Public Radio of Armenia/Azatutyun) — Artsakh’s Foreign Ministry has called on the international community to lead efforts to respond to and raise the alarm about the genocidal policy of Azerbaijan in light of the blockade of the Lachin Corridor.

The statement comes after Azerbaijan once again cut off the natural gas supply from Armenia to Artsakh through the only existing pipeline.

“During the 57 days of the blockade, Azerbaijan cut off the gas supply to Artsakh as many as 6 times, in particular on December 13, 2022 for three days, on January 17, 2023 for one day, on January 18 for one day, on January 21 for four days, and on January 28 for one day, disrupting normal life in the republic and exerting psychological pressure on the people of Artsakh,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“As a result of Azerbaijan’s actions, 120,000 residents of the republic, including 30,000 children, continue to face serious difficulties with access to heating and hot water in conditions of severe transport blockade and cold winter. The situation is further aggravated by the acute shortage of electricity caused by a breakdown on January 9, of the only high-voltage power line coming from Armenia, which cannot be restored due to persistent obstruction by the Azerbaijani side,” the statement reads.

“Such actions by Azerbaijan clearly show that even after the signing of the Trilateral Statement of November 9, 2020, official Baku did not abandon its long-term policy of exterminating the people of Artsakh in their historical homeland. To achieve this goal, the Azerbaijani authorities have resorted to the blockade of Artsakh and disruption of the critical energy infrastructure, thereby creating unbearable living conditions and dooming the civilian population to incredible hardships,” the Ministry stated.

“The inhumane actions of Azerbaijan indicate that the leadership of this country has placed itself above international law and human morality. Ignoring the calls of many countries and international organizations for the immediate lifting of the blockade of Artsakh and the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to ensure the free movement of people and cargo through the Lachin Corridor, official Baku has in fact placed itself in opposition to the civilized world. Such behavior became possible due to the impunity of the Baku regime, which gives it a free hand to further tighten its criminal policy against the indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh,” it added.

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“Under these circumstances, to prevent the destruction of the people of Artsakh, we consider it necessary that the international community direct their efforts not only toward ending the blockade of Artsakh, but also to taking prompt measures, including activation of early warning mechanisms, adequate assessment and response to the genocidal policy of Azerbaijan,” the Foreign Ministry concluded.

Azerbaijan reportedly again halted Armenia’s natural gas supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh on February 6, nearly two months after effectively blocking the only road connecting the Armenian-populated region to the outside world.

Following the previous disruption reported on January 18, the authorities suspended classes in Karabakh’s schools and colleges, saying that they cannot be heated in the absence of gas and electricity. The schools were reopened on January 30 after a partial restoration of the gas supply.

Armenia’s electricity supplies to Karabakh were similarly blocked by Baku on January 10, leading to daily power cuts there. The local power grid operator says that its specialists have still not been allowed to repair an Azerbaijani-controlled section of the high-voltage transmission line supplying the electricity.

The energy crisis has compounded shortages of food, medicine and other essential items. Much of economic activity in Karabakh has also been disrupted. More than 5,000 of its estimated 120,000 residents have lost their jobs because of the blockade, according to the Karabakh government.

The government decided at the weekend to pay each of them 68,000 drams ($170) in compensation. In addition, unemployed parents of children are to receive 40,000 drams per child.

“If only one of the parents doesn’t work, then [the compensation will be worth] 20,000 drams,” said Armen Mangasarian, the social security minister.

Azerbaijani government-backed protesters blocking the Lachin corridor allow only convoys of Russian peacekeepers and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to pass through it. The ICRC has evacuated critically ill patients from Karabakh and transported several dozen Karabakh children stranded in Armenia back to their families.

In recent days, the Russian peacekeepers appear to have shipped some foodstuffs from Armenia to Karabakh, somewhat alleviating the food shortages. Stepanakert residents say they can now buy limited amounts of some fruits and vegetables, sausage and confectionery in addition to sunflower oil, sugar, macaroni, rice and buckwheat rationed by the authorities.

Armenia has condemned the blockade as a gross violation of the Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the 2020 war in Karabakh.

Russia, the United States and the European Union have repeatedly urged Azerbaijan to reopen the corridor. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken telephoned Aliyev for that purpose late last month. Aliyev again defended the Azerbaijanis blocking the Lachin corridor and demanding that Baku be given access to “illegal” copper mines in Karabakh.


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