Day 71: Eco-vigil of Azerbaijani environmentalists, public activists stands tall
February 20 marks the 71st day of the open-ended picketing of the Khankandi-Lachin road by a group of Azerbaijani eco-activists, NGO, and public representatives in protest at the plundering of the nation’s natural resources by the separatist Armenians in areas under the temporary control of the Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh.
The Russian peacekeepers, who have been deployed in the region since November 10, 2020, to preserve peace and order with a gradual transition of the region under Azerbaijan’s control as envisaged by the tripartite peace deal, failed to live up to their mission to prevent the looting and destruction of the nature.
Following numerous failures, on December 12, 2020, a group of Azerbaijani eco-activists took to the streets in protest at the inactivity of the Russian peacekeeping contingent and their failure to cope with their duties. Since then, the eco-activists have been in the area preventing the plunder of natural resources and transportation of them to Armenia under the eyes of the so-called peacekeepers.
The demands with which the Azerbaijani eco-activists have been on the venue remain unchanged and the situation has already gained international recognition with mixed reactions. Nevertheless, despite cold and constantly changing weather conditions, the protest on the Khankandi-Lachin road against the illegal exploitation of mineral deposits in the Karabakh economic region of Azerbaijan continue and will go ahead without any doubts as the major demands of the Azerbaijani protesters have not been honored.
Volunteers and activists taking part in the demonstrations, without interfering with the movement of vehicles in both directions, keep chanting slogans similar slogans throughout the day for 71 days.
"Azerbaijan is the owner of its mineral resources!", "End environmental crimes!", "Stop eco-terror!", "Protect nature!", "No to ecocide! Yes to monitoring" are some of them chanted and heard on daily basis.
The latest situation on the major Karabakh road was also discussed at Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s recent meeting with the Armenian prime minister and the US Secretary of State.
Addressing a group of reporters in Munich, the Azerbaijani president said.
“Of course, the situation on the Lachin-Khankandi road was also discussed. I reiterated Azerbaijan's position that there is no question of any kind of blockade. More than 2,500 trucks and Red Cross vehicles have passed along the road since December 12, and if there had been a blockade, how could these vehicles have got through? In other words, this is an unfounded accusation against Azerbaijan, we are rejecting it, and I can say that this position was met with understanding in all the meetings I have had,” the president said.
The president further added that “the European Union understands our position as well. We rightfully demand that the illegal exploitation of our fields be stopped and until this is achieved, I am sure that our social activists will not give up their honorable mission. I have tried to communicate this message as well today. I have also stated that it would be good if Armenia and Azerbaijan established checkpoints on the Armenian-Azerbaijan border in a bilateral manner. We made this suggestion earlier and made it official today. Previously, this suggestion was communicated through unofficial channels. Armenia did not voice any position. They probably need some time to discuss it”.
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