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Lachin Corridor Must Reopen, PACE Monitors for Armenia Say

Following their visit to Armenia on 17-19th of February to assess the situation on the border with Azerbaijan and at the entrance of the Lachin Corridor, the co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Armenia Kimmo Kiljunen (Finland, SOC) and Boriana Åberg (Sweden, EPP/CD) issued the following statement on February 24.

The situation in the Lachin corridor requires immediate action. As of today, inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh cannot travel freely out of the region and, as we were informed, 954 are still stranded on either side of the corridor. Only International Committee of the Red Cross and Russian peacekeepers’ vehicles are allowed to travel along this corridor, which is clearly insufficient to fulfill the needs of the population. Moreover, it is vitally important that goods can get through in time for the sowing season. The free circulation of all vehicles must be restored urgently in accordance with the Trilateral Statement of 10 November 2020.

Furthermore, the repeated disruption of gas and electricity supply to the territory has resulted in serious violations of the rights of the inhabitants: many people have already lost their jobs and children are deprived of education since schools had to close.

We recall our joint statement with co-rapporteurs for Azerbaijan of 16 December 2022 which urged the restoration of freedom of movement along the Lachin corridor, and the European Court of Human Rights’ decision of 21 December 2022 calling on the authorities of Azerbaijan to take all measures to ensure safe passage through the “Lachin Corridor” of seriously ill persons in need of medical treatment in Armenia and others who were stranded on the road. We also take note of the International Court of Justice’s order of 22 February 2023 indicating that “Azerbaijan shall (…) take all measures at its disposal to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin corridor in both directions.” We invite all members of the Assembly to bring this situation to the attention of their respective national parliaments and join our call for the immediate cessation of the unlawful and illegitimate obstruction of the Lachin corridor.

Regarding the situation on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, we observed the consequences of attacks from Azerbaijani troops on civilian infrastructures in the city of Jermuk and the village of Sotk. We noted that evidence of the use of cluster ammunitions in civilian zones had been collected and kept for further expertise. We were shown the presence of Azerbaijani military positions within Armenian sovereign territory, sometimes well beyond any disputed border line.

We commend the deployment of a civilian mission from the European Union at the border, noting the significant tangible effects of the previous mission in reducing tensions. We call on both parties to advance discussions on border delimitation and to agree on a mirror withdrawal of troops from the border as an immediate confidence-building move.

We will report our findings to the PACE Monitoring Committee during its next meeting. We remain extremely alert to future developments and reiterate our readiness to provide, at the parliamentary level, all political support needed to reach a long-lasting peace settlement.”

During their visit, the co-rapporteurs visited the cities of Jermuk, Goris and Vardenis and their surroundings, as well as the entrance of the Lachin Corridor on the Armenian side. They met local officials and inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh blocked in Goris due to the ongoing obstruction of the Lachin Corridor.

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