Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh protest blockade of Lachin corridor
Thousands of Armenians in Stepanakert protest the blocking of the only Armenian-Karabakh road by Azerbaijani activists.
According to an AFP reporter, thousands of Armenians protested on Sunday in the city of Stepanakert in the Nagorno-Karabakh region to object to the blocking of the only road between the contested region and Armenia.
The demonstrators raised a giant Armenian flag in the city's Renaissance Square area.
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought two conflicts over the Armenian-populated area of Nagorno-Karabakh, one in 2020 and one in the 1990s, and now are quarreling over the Lachin corridor.
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Six weeks of violence in the autumn of 2020 claimed over 6,500 lives and ended with a ceasefire accord sponsored by Russia. Russia sent 2,000 peacekeepers to monitor the truce, but tensions remain despite a ceasefire deal.
Azerbaijani activists have blocked for around two weeks the Lachin corridor, which is the only road path connecting Armenia to the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The activists claimed they are demonstrating against illegal mining.
Yerevan accused Baku of being behind the blockade, which the latter denied, arguing that demonstrators and environmentalists closed the road in response to Armenia's "illegal activities" in the region.
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According to the Armenian parliament, the road blockade has caused the region to face major food, fuel, and medicine shortages, while Baku claims that the road is not blocked and civilian vehicles are free to go to and from Nagorno-Karabakh.
"This is the only road that connects Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) with the rest of the world. Not only Armenia, we reach the rest of the world through Armenia," Donara Gabrielyan, a 70-year-old Stepanakert resident stated to AFP on Saturday.
Yerevan also announced that Russian peacekeepers that are deployed in the area were failing to stop the road blockade.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on Friday for de-escalation between the conflicted parties, adding that the Russian peacekeeping units were "clearly fulfilling its tasks" despite operating in "very difficult conditions."
On September 13, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani expressed "Iran's readiness to provide any assistance needed to resolve the disagreements between its two neighbors" after a ceasefire had collapsed right after entering into force.
Earlier in October, Raisi’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Political Affairs, Mohammad Jamshidi, said that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi opposed any changes to Iran's historical borders in the South Caucasus.
"President Raisi to president Aliev of Azerbaijan made clear that any change in historical borders, regional geopolitics, and Iran-Armenia transit routes is not tolerable. Also, any European military presence under any guise is rejected. The West can't distract us strategically," Jamshidi tweeted
In the same context, French President Emmanuel Macron called on the Azerbaijani Ilham Aliyev to secure uninterrupted passage between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh region.
In a statement released by the French presidency, Macron, on Friday, "expressed his deepest preoccupation with renewed tensions in the South Caucasus" to Aliyev and urged him to "allow free movement along the Lachin corridor."
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