Country Representatives Claim Other Side Continues Provocations, Violates Trilateral Statement.
Despite a “glimmer of hope” regarding diplomatic efforts by Armenia and Azerbaijan towards a resolution of their ongoing dispute, a current escalation of tension and incidents threatens to derail fragile progress and unleash a dangerous resumption of violence, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today.
Miroslav Jenča, Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and Americas, Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, noted that since his last briefing, the parties have regularly traded accusations of ceasefire violations. Following renewed violence in mid-September, there have been several high-level diplomatic initiatives — including a meeting in October between Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, and Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, in Prague, resulting in an agreement to deploy the European Union monitoring capacity in Armenia.
He further recalled that in late October, leaders of the country met again in Sochi, hosted by Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, where they agreed to refrain from use or threat of force. In addition to the European Union mission agreed on by both sides, the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE), as well as the Collective Security Treaty Organization — at the request of Armenia — have also deployed missions to Armenia.
Regrettably, he noted that tensions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and around areas under control of Russian Federation peacekeeping forces have not abated. While representatives of both Armenia and Azerbaijan have provided widely differing accounts of the situation and accused each other of violating the 9 November 2020 trilateral statement, he underscored that the potential human toll of resumed conflict could be considerable. It would not only impact people of Armenia and Azerbaijan, but the wider South Caucasus region and beyond, he said, urging the parties to redouble efforts for a negotiated peaceful settlement before it is too late.
In the ensuing debate, Member States called for calm and diplomacy, expressing concern over the Lachin Corridor situation, while the representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan exchanged charges that the other side is continuing provocations and has violated the trilateral statement.
The representative of Armenia said that the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is close to turning into a humanitarian catastrophe. Negotiations by the region’s authorities with the Azerbaijani side to restore the Lachin Corridor’s safe and unhindered operation have not yielded results. That country’s unabated provocations have shown that, without strong accountability measures including sanctions, it will continue to test the determination of the international community and the Council.
Citing the ongoing major crisis in Europe, he noted that growing energy challenges means some States opt to engage with a hydro-carbon exporting State, like Azerbaijan. However, he stressed that this cannot be conducted at the expense of the fundamental human rights and physical security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. He urged the Council to demand that Azerbaijan fully respect the provisions of the trilateral statement of 9 November 2020 and immediately unblock the Lachin Corridor.
Azerbaijan’s delegate pointed out that what is erroneously called “Nagorno-Karabakh” is the internationally recognized sovereign territory of his country, the Karabakh economic region. Resolutely rejecting all of Armenia’s claims on the Lachin Corridor situation, he said that neither his Government nor protesting activists have blocked the Corridor, which has been misused for the illicit trafficking of minerals and other resources from Azerbaijan, a matter that his Government has consistently raised to the attention of the international community.
Also pointing out that Armenia has refused to fully withdraw its armed forces and share the complete set of maps of the mines it placed in his country, he called on the international community to persuade Armenia to reciprocate his Government’s offer: abide by its international obligations; end its illegal activities, territorial claims and political and military provocations; and engage in good faith direct negotiations.
The Russian Federation’s delegate expressed concern over the blocking of the Lachin Corridor, under the control of a Russian peacekeeping contingent, and recalled that both sides undertook commitments including the obligation to ensure civilians do not face difficulties. She urged the parties to exercise restraint, refrain from steps that increase tensions and abide by agreements reached in four trilateral statements between the leaders of the three countries.
The representative of Gabon also echoed concern over the closure of the Lachin Corridor which could result in a humanitarian crisis, highlighting the importance of drawing lessons from the large-scale September clashes and calling on all parties to restrain from provocative rhetoric and abide by the ceasefire agreement. Recognizing the position of Azerbaijan’s authorities, she encouraged an independent investigation, encouraging both parties to de-escalate and lower tensions.
Albania’s delegate cited concerns about the exploitation of natural resources, calling on both sides to fully engage in talks to find mutually agreed solutions. He welcomed the agreement between their leaders in early October to send the European Union mission of observers on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, noting both sides’ commitment to sign a peace treaty as soon as possible — as there is no alternative to a negotiated solution through the path of diplomacy.
Also speaking were the representatives of France, United Arab Emirates, China, United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, Ghana, Ireland and India.
The meeting began at 3:33 p.m. and ended at 4:53 p.m.