Macron promises new initiative to pressure Azerbaijan on Karabakh

AFP , Monday 28 Aug 2023

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday vowed to launch a new diplomatic initiative to up pressure on Azerbaijan over its blockade of Armenian-controlled areas of Nagorno-Karabakh which has raised fears of a humanitarian crisis.

French President Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron addresses French ambassadors during the conference of ambassadors at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on August 28, 2023. AFP


Without giving details on the initiative, he told a conference of French ambassadors that he would hold talks with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in the coming days.

"We will demand full respect for the Lachin humanitarian corridor and we will again launch a diplomatic initiative internationally to increase pressure on this issue," he said.

Armenia has urged the UN Security Council to hold a crisis meeting on Nagorno-Karabakh, citing a deteriorating humanitarian situation and accusing Azerbaijan of blocking supplies to the contested region.

The Caucasus neighbours have been locked in a dispute over the enclave, internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, since the 1980s and fought two wars over the territory.

The second, in 2020, saw the defeat of Armenian forces and significant territorial gains for Azerbaijan.

For months, Yerevan has accused Baku of stopping traffic through the Lachin corridor, a short, mountainous road linking Armenia to settlements in Nagorno-Karabakh still populated by Armenians after the latest conflict.

Mher Margaryan, Armenia's permanent representative to the UN, warned earlier this month that the population of Nagorno-Karabakh stands on the verge "of a veritable humanitarian catastrophe" due to shortages of food, medicines and energy.

Azerbaijan's ambassador to France Leyla Abdullayeva, in a letter to French local elected representatives, accused Armenia of "worsening the security situation in the region by misuing the Lachin route for the transfer of mines and illegal armed forces on Azerbaijan's territory".

That was why Azerbaijan had set up a check point on the Lachin route, she said in the letter, a copy of which was seen by AFP on Monday.

She also complained that some French elected representatives had accompanied a humanitarian convoy for Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh which she said had led to her country being "demonised" with claims it had created a humanitarian disaster based on "absolutely unfounded allegations".

The two neighbours have been unable to reach a lasting peace settlement despite mediation efforts by the European Union, United States and Russia.

In the latest 2020 conflict, Azerbaijan regained control of key areas of Karabakh including the culturally significant city of Shusha. But other parts of the region, including the main city of Stepanakert, remain in the control of Armenian separatists.

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