Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (L) and Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala during a joint press conference in Prague, May 4, 2023.

Pashinyan Highlights ‘Humanitarian Crisis’ In Nagorno-Karabakh on Visit to Prague

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PRAGUE (Public Radio of Armenia) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has urged the international community to give a “clear and targeted” assessment of the “humanitarian crisis” in Nagorno-Karabakh, claiming that Azerbaijan’s actions to cut the Armenian-populated region from Armenia amount to “preparations for ethnic cleansings.”

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Czech counterpart Petr Fiala on an official visit to Prague on May 4, Pashinyan said that the situation in the South Caucasus region remained tense and accused Azerbaijan of continuing its policy of using force and threat of force to escalate tensions on the border with Armenia, in Nagorno-Karabakh and in the Lachin corridor, the only road that connects the region with Armenia where Azerbaijan installed a checkpoint on April 23.

“Azerbaijan’s decision to install a checkpoint in the Lachin corridor and the blockade of the corridor before that are a gross violation of the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020 and the interim decision of the International Court of Justice made in February,” Pashinyan said.

The leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a trilateral statement on November 9, 2020 on the cessation of Armenian-Azerbaijani fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh that claimed the lives of nearly 7,000 people on both sides in a matter of a little more than six weeks .

Under the terms of the Moscow-brokered ceasefire agreement, Russia deployed around 2,000 peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh and along a five-kilometer-wide strip of land connecting it with Armenia and known as the Lachin corridor.

Yerevan and Stepanakert insist that Azerbaijan dismantle its checkpoint at the entrance to the Lachin corridor from Armenia and that only Russian peacekeepers remain there as agreed in the trilateral statement.

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Azerbaijan rejects the demand, insisting that the checkpoint was installed in response to Armenia’s “illegal use” of the road for military supplies, a claim denied in both Yerevan and Stepanakert.

The United States, France and other Western powers have urged Azerbaijan to ensure free movement of commercial and private vehicles along the Lachin corridor, expressing concerns that the situation could undermine peace efforts in the region.

Russia has also described Azerbaijan’s “unilateral steps” in the Lachin corridor as “unacceptable.”

Earlier, on February 22, when the Lachin corridor was still blockaded only by a group of pro-government Azerbaijani protesters, the International Court of Justice ordered the Azerbaijani government to “take all measures at its disposal to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin corridor in both directions.”

Speaking in Prague, Pashinyan reiterated that the current situation required a broader international presence in the region.

“In this context, we consider it necessary that an international fact-finding group be sent to Nagorno-Karabakh and to the Lachin corridor. At the same time, despite all the difficulties, the Armenian government has adopted a peace agenda,” Pashinyan underlined.

The Armenian prime minister’s visit to Prague comes amid ongoing peace talks between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Washington.

After meeting Ararat Mirzoyan and Jeyhun Bayramov in the White House on Wednesday, Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor to the US President, said Washington “welcomes the progress Armenia and Azerbaijan have made in talks and encourages continued dialogue.”

Bilateral negotiations between Mirzoyan and Bayramov that began on May 1 are expected to end today, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expected to join the two ministers for a closing session.

Pashinyan reiterated today that Armenia is fully involved in the negotiation process with Azerbaijan and will remain involved in it in the near future. He said that Armenia seeks to have results and “not just negotiate for the sake of negotiations.” He expressed a hope that Azerbaijan “will abandon its policy of force and threat of force.”

“We expect that the international community, too, will send a similar message to Azerbaijan,” Pashinyan said.

Besides meeting with Fiala, on his two-day visit to Prague the Armenian premier also met with Czech President Petr Pavel and the leadership of the country’s legislative body.

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