Blinken Promises to Help Pashinyan Resolve Armenian-Azerbaijani Issues
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has promised to assist Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in resolving Armenian-Azerbaijani problems through dialogue, according to a statement from the Armenian government's press service. The two leaders discussed the deepening humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh as a result of the illegal blockade of the Lachin corridor, the accumulation of Azerbaijani forces around Nagorno-Karabakh, and the growing tensions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border. Pashinyan also discussed these issues with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
"Blinken emphasized the importance of resolving all issues through dialogue and peaceful diplomatic means and stated that the United States will continue its active efforts in this direction. The Prime Minister of Armenia and the US Secretary of State deemed the escalation of the situation unacceptable, emphasizing the need to ensure peace and stability in the region," the statement said.
Pashinyan reiterated his commitment to resolving all issues diplomatically and in a constructive atmosphere based on the agreements reached on October 6, 2022, in Prague and May 14, 2023, in Brussels. He expressed readiness to hold urgent discussions with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev for this purpose.
The Armenian Defense Ministry has reported that the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border has remained tense for two days due to the accumulation of Azerbaijani armed forces. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov stated that Armenia's claims are aimed at "misinforming the international community" and do not reflect reality. Bayramov emphasized the inadmissibility of "interference in Azerbaijan's internal affairs, including obstructing efforts to reintegrate Armenians living in Karabakh, under the pretext of unfounded claims of a so-called 'complex humanitarian situation' and 'blockade' in the region."
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan referred to Pashinyan's statements about the escalation of the military-political situation as "an integral part of another fake political manipulation." Periodic clashes occur on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The most recent serious escalation occurred on the night of September 13, 2022. In late September 2020, hostilities resumed in Nagorno-Karabakh, continuing the long-standing conflict. The parties made several attempts to establish a ceasefire, but the trilateral agreement reached on the night of November 10 proved successful. With Moscow's mediation, Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed to completely cease fire, remaining in their occupied positions, and exchange prisoners and the bodies of the deceased. In addition, Baku regained control of the Kelbajar and Lachin districts, as well as part of the Agdam district, which were previously under the control of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and were not occupied by the Azerbaijani army during the hostilities. Russian peacekeepers were deployed in the region, including the Lachin corridor.
Last year, with the mediation of Russia, the United States, and the European Union, Yerevan and Baku began discussions on a future peace treaty. In late May 2023, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that his country recognizes Azerbaijan's sovereignty over the territory of Karabakh, with a total area of 86.6 thousand square kilometers. Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev stated that Azerbaijan and Armenia could sign a peace treaty in the near future if Yerevan does not change its position.
On April 23, 2023, Azerbaijani border guards established a checkpoint on the border with Armenia - it appeared at the beginning of the road in the Lachin corridor, which leads to Stepanakert. The checkpoint is located on the new highway built after the 2020 ceasefire, bypassing Lachin - near the bridge over the Hakari River, 16 kilometers east of the village of Tekh in the Syunik region of Armenia. A Russian peacekeeping contingent observation post is located near the facility. Previously, since December 2022, Azerbaijani environmental activists closed the same road - according to them, the action was a protest against the illegal exploitation of mineral resources in Karabakh. The appearance of the checkpoint in Baku was explained by the unlawful use of the Armenian side of the road to Stepanakert and security threats. Azerbaijani border guards indicated that the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent and the Russian-Turkish monitoring center were informed about this. The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the establishment of the checkpoint a gross violation of the trilateral statement by the leaders of Armenia, Russia, and Azerbaijan in 2020. In response, Baku called the establishment of the checkpoint a legitimate step. The Armenian authorities draw attention to the fact that the blockade of the Lachin corridor has led to a humanitarian catastrophe in Nagorno-Karabakh.