No:596/22, Commentary of the Press Service Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the UN Security Council discussions regarding situation on the Lachin road
On December 20, 2022, UN Security Council held discussions on the situation regarding the Lachin road.
Despite the obvious attempts of Armenia to exploit this institution for the purpose of manipulation campaign against Azerbaijan, the discussions at the UN Security Council provided yet another platform for Azerbaijan to raise its legitimate concerns, including deliberate, continuous and uncorrected violations by Armenia of its commitments undertaken within the Trilateral Statement of 10 November 2020, and inform the wider international community in this regard.
In its statement, the Azerbaijani representative rejected all the claims put forward by Armenia regarding the alleged closure of the Lachin road by Azerbaijan, so-called blockade imposed on the Armenian residents and “humanitarian catastrophe” as completely false, null and void. It was stated that neither the Government of Azerbaijan nor the protesting activists have blocked the Lachin road.
The regime for the movement of citizens, goods and vehicles along the road remains unchanged, with the peacekeepers continuing to perform their duties to regulate the movement along the road. Video footages shared on social media shows unimpeded passage of the various types of vehicles, including ambulances and humanitarian convoys.
The claims as regards to alleged humanitarian consequences of the situation are equally false. There is no impediment whatsoever regarding the supply of goods for the use of local residents or in terms of delivery of essential medical services. As a matter of fact, ICRC convoys have passed through the road without any impediment over past days.
The Government of Azerbaijan has repeatedly expressed its readiness to address all humanitarian needs that might be faced by Armenian residents in an expeditious manner. Proceeding from that the Government of Azerbaijan is in close contact with the local representation of the ICRC.
At the UNSC meeting, Azerbaijani delegation has provided detailed information on the course of events that led to a group of Azerbaijani civil society representatives to hold demonstration in protest of illegal exploitation of natural resources of Azerbaijan in the area of temporary deployment of peacekeeping contingent.
The Government of Azerbaijan has taken series of steps to address the illegal exploitation of mineral deposits in the area, including its harsh ecological consequences through dialogue. On December 3 and 7, meetings between relevant Azerbaijani institutions and the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent were held to define modalities of on-site visit of national experts to the Gyzilbulag and Demirly deposits to monitor and assess the ecological consequences of their illegal exploitation. The meetings were also attended by representatives of local Armenians, and an agreement was reached regarding the road map for such activities by Azerbaijani experts.
Following this agreement, peacekeepers organized a visit of Azerbaijani national experts, which was then forcefully obstructed by apparently pre-organized and orchestrated actions of a group of persons. This caused legitimate and justified indignation among the Azerbaijani society, and in response, a group of civil society representatives started peaceful demonstration in the Lachin road demanding the prevention of illegal exploitation of natural resources of Azerbaijan and abuse of the Lachin road, defined exclusively for humanitarian purposes, for illicit trafficking of natural resources of Azerbaijan to Armenia.
The illegal exploitation of natural resources, which besides being inadmissible under the national legislation of Azerbaijan and relevant international instruments, is being carried out in total disregard of relevant environment-related technical standards causing wide-spread and in many respects irreversible damage on eco-system. It also violates the rights of a private foreign company to exploit these mineral deposits under the respective agreement with the Government of Azerbaijan. According to agreement, only these foreign companies possess the rights to exploit the areas of mineral deposits.
This is a source of legitimate and substantiated concern for entire Azerbaijani society. Therefore, different segments of the civil society organizations of Azerbaijan, as well as ordinary citizens legitimately demand prevention of further plundering and pillage of national wealth of the people of Azerbaijan and facilitation of monitoring by national experts of the environmental damage inflicted.
Along with the continued non-fulfilment of commitments related to cessation of military hostilities and withdrawal of all Armenian armed formations from the territory of Azerbaijan, this also includes blatant abuse of the Lachin road for illegal military and other activities, including for illegal trafficking of national resources of Azerbaijan. Contrary to Trilateral Statement, Armenia while pursuing illegal military activities on the territory of Azerbaijan, besides not fully withdrawing its forces from the territory of Azerbaijan, continues to lay a large number of anti-personnel landmines in the territory of Azerbaijan, including 2021-Armenia-produced, which leads to an increase in a number of landmine victims not only along the former contact line but also in other territories. As a result, since the end of the Patriotic War of 2020, 276 persons have become landmine victims, with 46 killed including 3 journalists. Out of the 46 killed, 35 persons are civilians.
Therefore, it should be highlighted that in almost all statements by the UNSC member states there was a call for implementation of commitments under the Trilateral Statement. In view of Armenia’s blatant violations of the said document, such calls by UNSC members should finally be heard and observed by Armenia.
It is also of utmost importance to underline the call for majority of UNSC members for continued negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan for normalization of relations. We appreciate the calls for mutual recognition of sovereignty and territorial integrity by Armenia and Azerbaijan as the basis for this process, including in the context of border delimitation.
It is Azerbaijan that since the very first days after the end of the conflict has been continuously advocating for normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan on such basis. Calls at the UNSC in this regard demonstrates the acceptance of Azerbaijan’s post-conflict normalization agenda by the wider-international community.
At the same time, it remains to be source of deep disappointment that some UNSC Member-States did not refrain from demonstrating biased, one-sided position. Of particular concern is the usage of erroneous reference to the part of the territory of Azerbaijan.
As it has also been stated during the discussions, Azerbaijan rejects such references as an interference into its internal affairs, as well as violation of relevant requirements of the UN with regard to the use of geographic names. Azerbaijan once again urges those states to honor their obligations under the UN Charter and international law and refrain from any statements that is directed against Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
As it has been stated at the UNSC meeting, Azerbaijan is committed to regional peace, stability and development. Azerbaijan’s position in this regard is clear, principled and consistent, and is based on international law and established international practice.
We reiterate our call on the international community to persuade Armenia to reciprocate the offer of Azerbaijan, cease its political and military provocations, abandon its aggressive rhetoric and actions, and engage in good faith in direct negotiations to find a peaceful diplomatic solution to all issues pertaining to inter-state relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia.