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 Thursday, August 31 2023 13:05
Marianna Mkrtchyan

Yerevan responds to Russian foreign office rep 

Yerevan responds to Russian foreign office rep 

ArmInfo.Armenia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has responded to a statement by Maria Zakharova,  Spokesperson for Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that the resent situation in the Lachin corridor as the result of Armenia's recognizing Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. 

Another comment of the official representative of the Russian Foreign  Ministry of a similar content that the situation in the Lachin  corridor is a consequence of the fact that, in October 2022 in  Prague, referring to the Alma-Ata Declaration, Armenia recognized  Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, after which the task of  Russian peacekeepers became possible influence in the issue of the  rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, causes  bewilderment and disappointment.

We are forced to publicly recall the chronology of events already  known to everyone and significant circumstances. 

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has never been a territorial dispute  between Armenia and Azerbaijan: at its core, it has always been and  remains a question of the rights and security of the people of  Nagorno- Karabakh.

In August 2022, the Armenian side approved the Russian draft  settlement of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, according to  which the discussion of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh was postponed  indefinitely. Azerbaijan rejected this project, at the same time  declaring (as it did on August 31 in Brussels) that it was not going  to discuss anything related to Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, and a  few days later, on September 13, it resorted to military aggression  against the sovereign territory of Armenia. 

After Azerbaijan's refusal, the Russian side not only failed to show  consistency in this matter, but also demonstrated absolute  indifference to the aggression against the sovereign territory of the  Republic of Armenia, leaving unanswered the official letter of the  Armenian side on providing support to the Republic of Armenia on the  basis of a bilateral legal framework. Moreover, the Russian  Federation explained the lack of reaction to the attack on Armenia  and the resulting inaction by the lack of delimitation of the  interstate border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which is a false  pretext, thereby supporting the deliberately false and extremely  dangerous thesis that due to the absence of a border between Armenia  and Azerbaijan, it is difficult to record an attack and invasion of  the territory of Armenia. Similarly, a similar request from Armenia  to the CSTO also did not receive a proper response.

Against this background, October 6, 2022. in Prague, Armenia and  Azerbaijan reaffirmed their commitment to the Alma-Ata Declaration,  which the former Soviet republics, including Armenia, Azerbaijan and  Russia, signed back in 1991, recognizing each other's territorial  integrity with the administrative borders that existed between the  republics during the Soviet Union. Thus, nothing new was decided in  Prague: as of October 2022. The Alma-Ata Declaration has been in  effect for about 31 years.  The agreements reached in Prague did not  add anything new to the text of the Tripartite Statement of November  9, 2020. The only innovation was that, following the meeting in  Prague, the EU decided to deploy an observation mission on the  Armenian side of the Armenian-Azerbaijani interstate border in order  to contribute stability at the border.

The Russian Federation has repeatedly, including after the signing of  the Trilateral Statement of November 9, 2020, recognized  Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. The latest and, nevertheless,  the most significant was the fact that Russia recognized the  territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in the document establishing  strategic relations with Azerbaijan.

On December 12, 2022, in the zone of control of the Russian  peacekeeping contingent, the Lachin corridor was blocked as a result  of false protests organized by the Azerbaijani authorities. Already  in April 2023, the Azerbaijani side, in the presence of Russian  peacekeepers, established an illegal checkpoint in the Lachin  corridor. Despite the fact that these actions constituted a clear and  flagrant violation of the Tripartite Statement, there was no recorded  opposition from the Russian Federation. Instead, on June 15, 2023,  Russian peacekeepers provided effective support to Azerbaijan's  attempt to plant the Azerbaijani flag on the sovereign territory of  Armenia, which is outside the scope of their mission and geographical  area of responsibility. This was immediately followed by the complete  blocking of the Lachin corridor, bringing the situation in  Nagorno-Karabakh closer to a real humanitarian catastrophe.

"Already in April 2023, the Azerbaijani side, in the presence of  Russian peacekeepers, established an illegal checkpoint in the  Kashatagh corridor. Although these actions were a clear and gross  violation of the tripartite statement, there was no opposition from  Russia. On June 15, 2023, they provided effective support to an  attempt to establish flag of Azerbaijan on the sovereign territory of  Armenia, outside the scope of its mission and geographical area of  responsibility, which was immediately followed by the complete  blocking of the Kashatagh corridor, bringing the situation in  Nagorno-Karabakh closer to a real humanitarian catastrophe.

Under conditions of such permissiveness, in the presence of Russian  peacekeepers, the Azerbaijani side at an illegal checkpoint in the  Kashatagh corridor resorts to such steps as kidnapping residents of  Nagorno- Karabakh, following the example of Vagif Khachatryan on July  29 and three students on August 28.

Unfortunately, this practice of the Russian peacekeeping contingent  in Nagorno-Karabakh, is not new. On December 11, 2020, the violation  of the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh, the illegal capture of  the villages of Khtsaberd and Khin Tager, the capture and transfer of  60 Armenian servicemen to Baku took place in the presence and with  the connivance of representatives of the Russian peacekeeping  contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh. Then the agreements of October 6,  2022 were not reached. The same applies to the events of March 24,  2022 in Parukh and August 1, 2022 in Saribaba, when Azerbaijan again  violated the line of contact with Nagorno-Karabakh.

Shelling by the Azerbaijani armed forces of persons carrying out  agricultural work in the presence of Russian peacekeepers, one of the  incidents ended in the murder of a tractor driver from Martakert,  terror of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh with night lighting and  loudspeakers again in the presence of Russian peacekeepers, thousands  of violations of the ceasefire by the Azerbaijani armed forces again  in the presence of Russian peacekeepers - a continuation of this  logic.

We advise the representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry in the  absence of actions by Russian peacekeepers to prevent the blocking of  the Kashatag corridor or its opening after blocking, to refrain from  juggling the circumstances of the situation and thereby further  complicating it.

We advise the representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry to  refrain from maneuvering the circumstances of the situation and  thereby further complicating it in the absence of actions by Russian  peacekeepers to prevent the blocking of the Lachin corridor or its  opening after.

We also consider it necessary to reassure that the Republic of  Armenia is committed to its obligation to establish stability in the  region on the basis of mutual recognition of territorial integrity  and borders. At the same time, we consider it absolutely necessary to  resume the functioning of the Lachin Corridor in accordance with the  Trilateral Statement of November 9, 2020 and the decisions of the  International Court of Justice, as well as to prevent a humanitarian  catastrophe in Nagorno-Karabakh and resolve all existing problems  through the Baku-Stepanakert dialogue under international auspices.

It should be noted that on August 31, Zakharova, reacting to the  difficult situation in the Kashatagh corridor, stated that the  current situation in the corridor was the result of Armenia's  recognition of Nagorno- Karabakh as part of the territory of  Azerbaijan.

According to her, this was recorded at the end of the summit with the  participation of the leaders of the two countries under the auspices  of the European Union in October 2022 and May 2023.

"This was clearly emphasized in the statement of the Russian Foreign  Ministry dated July 15 in connection with the situation around  Nagorno-Karabakh. We consider it inappropriate, wrong, unjustified to  assign responsibility in this context to the Russian peacekeeping  contingent. The peacekeeping contingent's task in the new conditions  - after Armenia's authorities recognized Nagorno-Karabakh as part of  Azerbaijan - is to provide, 'on the ground', all possible assistance  in ensuring the rights and security of the Karabakh Armenians,  including in the context of direct dialogue between Baku and  Stepanakert," Ms Zakharova said. 

She also accused Armenia of non-fulfillment of agreements and a  radical change of position on key issues for Yerevan itself.  

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