Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addressed the situation in the Lachin Corridor at the beginning of the government session. In his speech, the Prime Minister, in particular, noted:
“Dear participants of the government session,
About 6,000 students of Nagorno-Karabakh preschool institutions, about 19,000 students of public schools, and about 6,800 students of universities have been deprived of one of the most vital rights of the 21st century, the right to education for a month already because kindergartens, schools, and universities in Nagorno-Karabakh have been closed for a month and are not works. The last time something like this happened was during the 44-day war. In a situation where the cannons were not firing, educational institutions were closed only because of the coronavirus pandemic. This time, however, the reason for the shutdown of educational institutions is not the COVID-19 virus but Azerbaijan’s “environmental” concerns.
Not satisfied with closing the Lachin Corridor, Azerbaijan also closes the gas pipeline feeding Nagorno-Karabakh, then opens it by 10 percent, then closes it again, then opens it by, say, 25 percent, and so on. Azerbaijan also continuously uses the tool of gas pressure, which is reprehensible.
The following reason for the non-working of kindergartens is the need for more prescribed food for children. This, in turn, is connected with the closure of the Lachine Corridor.
The life road of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Lachin Corridor, defined by the tripartite declaration of November 9, 2020, and whose uninterrupted operation was given written guarantees by the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation, has been closed for 46 days. And as I mentioned above, everyday life in Nagorno-Karabakh has been disrupted for 46 days, and the humanitarian crisis is unfolding in full swing.
In Nagorno-Karabakh, there are frequent power outages because Azerbaijan has also disrupted the work of power lines supplying Nagorno-Karabakh, and the population is supplied with electricity only at the expense of the production capacity of local electric plants, which is not enough. Necessities are provided to the people through a voucher system.
As I said before, with all this, the government of Azerbaijan pursues one goal: to break the will of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to live in their homeland. Moreover, according to the information we have, Baku’s plan is as follows: to bring the economic and psychological pressure in Nagorno-Karabakh to a certain culmination point after that to open the corridor for a few days with the expectation that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh will leave their homes en masse, to close the passage again and then open again for a few days and so on until the last Armenian leaves Nagorno-Karabakh. This is, of course, a blatant policy of ethnic cleansing. And I must record that if, until now, the international community was skeptical about our alarms about Azerbaijan’s intentions to subject the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to ethnic cleansing, now we already see this perception is slowly but steadily growing more potent among the international community.
In this regard, On January 17, the Azerbaijanis shared the video of the terrorizing of the children returning to Nagorno Karabakh accompanied by peacekeepers by Azerbaijani masked “environmental activists” themselves and was widely distributed around the world.
But deporting the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh from their homes is not the only goal of Azerbaijan. With these provocative actions, Azerbaijan aims to disrupt the peace agenda and negotiation process and incite a new war in the region.
It is clear, of course, that the closing of the Lachin Corridor and the humanitarian crisis created in Nagorno-Karabakh is very emotional for all of us. But I must again emphasize the need for restraint in this situation and the exclusion of vocabulary and actions contrary to the peace agenda, especially by the representatives of the state authorities.
We remain consistent in our efforts to promote the peace agenda, and we will not be swayed from this agenda by any provocation. At the same time, I must emphasize that we must continue our joint efforts; by joint, I mean the government, the opposition, civil society, Armenian and Diaspora individuals and organizations to focus international attention on the encroachments on the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.
I also want to thank the countries and organizations that respond to the situation objectively and impartially, relying on human rights and international obligations of the nations.
Just to let you know, Azerbaijan has been trying to convince the international community for a long time that the Lachin Corridor is not closed and that the gas and electricity supply to Nagorno Karabakh has continued.
First, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh claim the opposite. The best way to de jure resolve this conflict is to send an international fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and Lachin Corridor, and we should consistently work in this direction.
And in general, there is no alternative to the peaceful settlement of all existing problems in our region. We will be guided by this logic as much as we understand all the difficulties and complications.