Humanitarian and security update in Karabakh and in the Lachin corridor – Update as of 15/09/23

The files we follow: Karabakh Conflict Resolution Process, Humanitarian and Security Update in Karabakh and the Lachin Corridor, Abkhazia and South Ossetia / Georgia Conflict, Georgia – EU/ US/Russia/Ukraine Relations and Georgian Domestic Policy, South Caucasian energy, trade and transport issues, Human Rights in South Caucasus, Various foreign policies Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia.

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The announcement by the office of the Human Rights Defender of Nagorno-Karabakh of a first death from hunger in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave on 15 August further alerted world public opinion to the humanitarian situation in the enclave since the Azerbaijani state took over management of the Lachin corridor.

As a reminder, Azerbaijan has only authorized the daily passage of ICRC and Russian peacekeepers vehicles between Armenia and the Azerbaijani part of Karabakh still controlled by the self-proclaimed Armenian authorities since 12 December 2022, the date of the first pro-government environmentalists demonstrations which continued until 28 April 2023 when the Azerbaijani state simply set up a customs post.

A gradual recovery therefore, enabled by the laissez-faire of the Russian peacekeeping forces explained in these terms by Sergei Lavrov on 15 July : “In October 2022 and May 2023, during summits under the auspices of the Union European Union, Armenia, recognized Nagorno-Karabakh as part of the territory of Azerbaijan. We respect the sovereign decision of the Armenian leadership, however, this radically changed the fundamental conditions under which the Declaration of the Leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia of November 9, 2020 was signed, as well as the position of the Russian peacekeeping contingent stationed in the region”. Comments which serve at the same time to accentuate tensions between Yerevan and Stepanakert and to increasingly isolate Nikol Pashinian politically and to push him towards the exit due to his pro-Western orientation.

A first ban on the passage of ICRC vehicles on 15 June was imposed by Azerbaijan due to a fire at the border post, then on 11 July under the pretext of smuggling according to the national border service. On 25 July, the ICRC called for a “humanitarian consensus”, with the Azerbaijani government proposing a second crossing to the east of the enclave communicating directly with the rest of Azerbaijani territory but no longer at all with Armenia: the Aghdam – Kankhendi (Stepanakert in Armenian) crossing. An unacceptable approach for the Armenian “local authorities” as well as for the Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh CSOs but supported by Charles Michel.

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