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Artsakh’s Free Homeland Party: Open Stepanakert Airport as Humanitarian Cooperation Gesture

The following is an unedited statement released by Arayik Harutyunyan, Chairman of Artsakh’s Free Homeland Party regarding the recent meeting between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Harutyunyan served as Artsakh Prime Minister from 2007-2017.

“We have already expressed the position of ''Free Homeland'' Party on the first official meeting between the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan and the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. We have especially welcomed the importance of the maintenance of the ceasefire regime and the humanitarian cooperation between the opposing forces.

Surely, we continue to be convinced and insist that negotiations can be successful if the official Stepanakert is involved in the negotiations. As Head of Artsakh's leading political force, that is interested in a peaceful and fair settlement of the conflict and the establishment of stability and lasting peace in the region, I would like to present publicly two proposals on humanitarian cooperation, which can be discussed, for example, during the upcoming meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

First, the airspace of Artsakh must be open for international flights. In this context, we highlight the re-launch of the Stepanakert airport, which will also enable the realization of fundamental human rights, especially the right to freedom of movement. I am convinced that in that case, the regional communication capabilities will be expanded, and the Artsakh armed forces will ensure the safety of our airspace.

Secondly, the water resources of Sarsang Reservoir can be used jointly by Artsakh and Azerbaijan. In case of consent, thousands of hectares of irrigated lands of Artsakh and Azerbaijan border regions will be irrigated by raising the living standards of the population living in those areas.

I would like to mention that in due time the authorities of the Republic of Azerbaijan had rejected the proposals made by Artsakh authorities through the International Committee of the Red Cross and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.

As a result, we have developed an alternative program for Sarsang water use, but once again we express our readiness for mutually beneficial and humanitarian cooperation.”

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