Day 44: As Azerbaijani eco-activists stand firm on demands, envoy refutes Armenians' blockade claims [PHOTO/VIDEO]
For 44 days back-to-back, the Azerbaijani eco-activists and representatives of NGOs have been picketing the Lachin-Khankandi road against the illicit exploitation of Azerbaijan's natural resources despite the cold weather, Azernews reports.
In sharp contrast to the remarks by Karabakh separatists about the “humanitarian crisis” or the road “blockade, vehicles constantly pass through the road without any problems. This way, a convoy of 6 vehicles of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as a few vehicles and passenger cars of the Russian peacekeeping contingent drove along the Lachin-Khankandi road unhindered today.
In an article published by Financial Times, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the UK Elin Suleymanov noted that hundreds of vehicles passing through the road indicate that there is no "blockade" by Azerbaijan.
In response to the article of Anastasia Stognei and Max Seddon on FT, the ambassador underlined that the authors "are correct to highlight the negative impact of the Russian-Armenian oligarch Ruben Vardanyan on the situation in the territories of Azerbaijan under temporary deployment of Russian peacekeepers, and on the process of Armenian-Azerbaijani normalization".
Despite that, he added that the article is too quick to dismiss the valid concerns of the Azerbaijani society regarding the very real destruction of the environment and smuggling of landmines and weapons through the Lachin road from Armenia, in violation of commitments officially undertaken by the Armenian government in Yerevan.
He also stressed that the question that should be posed to the separatists in Khankandi is why they are preventing local Armenians from traveling to Armenia.
"The FT article confirms that the Karabakh region is an internationally-recognized part of Azerbaijan. Even Armenia implied this was so, most recently in stating its recognition of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty based on international documents. What would serve the best interests of the Armenian and Azerbaijani people alike is to move forward with a comprehensive agreement to ensure lasting peace in the Caucasus," the ambassador concluded.
Following discussions with the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent on December 3 and 7, 2022, Azerbaijani specialists from the Ministries of Economy, Ecology, and Natural Resources, the State Service for Property Issues under the Ministry of Economy, and AzerGold Company were to conduct primary monitoring on illegal exploitation of mineral deposits on Azerbaijani territory. However, the monitoring failed due to the provocation of ethnic Armenians.
After the Russian peacekeepers' failure to provide the necessary conditions for the Azerbaijani agency representatives to carry out their duties in the area, a group of eco-activists, NGOs, and public representatives have taken to the street in protest at the peacekeepers' repugnance to live up to their obligations in line with the November 10, 2020, peace deal to maintain peace and order in the region, and oust the Armenian troops from the region and prevent illegalities. However, time proved that the Russian peacekeepers are driven by the interests of Russia rather than the idea coming from the essence of the notion of peacekeeping as universally understood.
Sabina Mammadli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @SabinaMmdl
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