12 Dec 2022 14:07

Karabakh says Azerbaijan has blocked Lachin corridor

YEREVAN. Dec 12 (Interfax) - Azerbaijan has blocked the motor road linking Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, the Nagorno-Karabakh information center reported on Monday.

"A group of Azerbaijanis wearing civilian clothes again blocked the motor road linking Stepanakert [the center of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh republic] and Goris [a city in Armenia's Syunik region] on the pretext of environmental protection at 10:30 a.m. today. The command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent was duly informed of the incident," it said.

Authorized agencies are taking all possible measures to settle the incident, it said.

The road was previously blocked on December 3.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at the 4th Global Forum against the Crime of Genocide in Yerevan on Monday described the Lachin Corridor linking Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia as "a corridor for preventing genocide."

"Blocking this corridor and suspending its operation means sentencing the Nagorno-Karabakh population to genocide by following three different scenarios, namely de-Armenization of Nagorno-Karabakh, the loss of identity, and the physical extermination of the population," Pashinyan said.

"Dialogue and cooperation, including between Stepanakert and Baku, is the most important mechanism of preventing genocide," he said.

Meanwhile, reports from Baku said that Azerbaijani environmental activists were protesting against what they see as the unlawful development of resources in the country's Karabakh economic region on Monday.

"We are currently in Shusha. The road leading to Khankendi [the Azerbaijani name for Stepanakert] has been blocked by several hundred NGO representatives. We won't unblock the road until our demands are met. Our demand is: stop environmental terror and illegal development of resources in Karabakh," an activist participating in the protest told Interfax.

The protesters have also demanded that Maj. Gen. Andrei Volkov, commander of the Russian peacekeeping force deployed in the area, arrive at the site.

As reported earlier, following negotiations with the command of the Russian peacekeepers on December 3 and 7, 2022, a team of Azerbaijani specialists on December 10 planned to start the preliminary monitoring of what Baku sees as the illegal development of mineral deposits in Azerbaijan's Karabakh region, where Russian peacekeepers are deployed.

The Azerbaijani Economy Ministry and the Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry said in a joint statement that the specialists planned to examine the local mineral deposits, including the Kyzlbulag gold mine and the Demirli copper and molybdenum deposit, monitor various aspects, arrange the cadastral registration of property, and assess potential damage and hazards to the environment, including groundwater and surface water sources.

However, the Azerbaijani Economy Ministry said the same day that the monitoring was disrupted following what it described as provocative actions by "aggressive young men."

"We saw a group of aggressive young men on the location. They blocked our access to the sites, the deposits. We believe it was an intentional provocation," Azerbaijani Economy Ministry spokesman Masim Mamedov told reporters on Saturday.

Despite the earlier agreements, the Russian peacekeepers failed to enable normal activity of Azerbaijani specialists, he said.

Baku sent a note to Moscow, urging it to provide unhindered access for Azerbaijani monitoring of Karabakh deposits consistent with the earlier agreements, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Ayhan Gajizade said on Sunday.