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PACE Rapporteur seeks access to Lachin corridor to see at first hand the situation on the ground

Paul Gavan (Ireland, UEL)

Paul Gavan (Ireland, UEL), rapporteur on “Addressing the humanitarian consequences of the blockade of the Lachin corridor” made the following statement:

"On 23 April 2023, I was informed that a border checkpoint was established by the Republic of Azerbaijan at the starting point of the Lachin road.

This unilateral action by Azerbaijan takes place amidst current increasing tensions around the obstruction of the Lachin Corridor, the only open communication route between the region of Nagorno-Karabakh* and Armenia since 12 December 2022. The open and safe access to this Corridor was established and agreed in the Trilateral Statement of 9 November 2020.

The Parliamentary Assembly has been following closely this situation, including in a current affairs debate in January, an information note by the PACE co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Armenia, Kimmo Kiljunen (Finland, SOC) and Boriana Åberg (Sweden, EPP/CD) and a statement by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights both issued in March. Following a decision of the Bureau, I was appointed rapporteur on 'Addressing the humanitarian consequences of the blockade of the Lachin corridor' by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons on 15 March 2023. I have previously prepared a report on 'Humanitarian consequences of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan / Nagorno-Karabakh conflict' in 2021.

Azerbaijan alleges systematic and large-scale misuse of the Lachin road for illicit purposes, contrary to the Trilateral Statement of 10 November 2020, which it claims constitute security threats. Without accessing the area, it is not possible to verify these claims. On the other hand, the suffering of the inhabitants in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the resulting serious humanitarian crisis, has already been well-documented.

For months now, we have been witnessing a worrying escalation in the region not only in rhetoric but in facts. It is imperative that both parties contribute to finding a solution to prevent the worsening of the situation of those people living in Nagorno-Karabakh. My report on the situation must be prepared without delay. I intend to travel to Armenia and Azerbaijan, including to the region in question in the last week of May.

During my visit, which must include first-hand experience of the conditions on the ground at the Lachin Corridor, I stand ready to meet with all relevant interlocutors. Despite the regrettable upsurge in tension of the last days, I am confident that I will be able to count on the co-operation and good-will of both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

My aim is to produce a fair, accurate and honest report, which will be difficult to achieve if I am not allowed to see with my own eyes whether access to the Lachin Corridor is free and safe, as provided by the Trilateral Statement of 9 November 2020."

* Nothing in this document can be interpreted as being contrary to the full respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan within their internationally recognised borders, the provisions of the 1993 UN Security Council Resolutions and the Trilateral Statement by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and the President of the Russian Federation of 9 November 2020.