Daniel Ioannisyan’s speech on the Lachin Corridor at the meeting of the EU-Armenia Civil Society Platform in Brussels

On September 12, Daniel Ioannisyan delivered a speech at the session of the EU-Armenia Civil Society Platform, which is taking place in Brussels. In his speech, the Programs Coordinator of the Union of Informed Citizens NGO touched upon the issue of the Lachin Corridor, drawing the attention of the session participants to the Armenophobic policy of Azerbaijan. Below is the full text of the speech.

Dear partners,

I would like to thank the representative of the European External Action Service for confirming the strong and clear position on the Lachin corridor issue.

To understand the necessity and importance of free movement of Armenians through the Lachin corridor, we should have more understanding on some very particular details of the situation on the ground.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has a very long history. But I would like to talk about developments since last year.

A year ago, on September 13, 2022, the Azerbaijani armed forces launched a large-scale unprovoked military attack against the sovereign and internationally recognized territory of the Republic of Armenia, targeting the peaceful borderline communities inside Armenia.

The attack left hundreds dead, including Armenian civilians. But I would like to draw your attention to several episodes that prove the presence of Armenophobia in Azerbaijan.

Soon after, a video was released, where Azerbaijani soldiers are executing 7 Armenian POWs. Such footage can be seen only in movies. Armenians who are on their knees and neutralized are shot dead by a group of Azerbaijani servicemen with rounds of Kalashnikov machine guns.

Another case was the desecration and mutilation of the body of a dead female Armenian serviceperson. Azerbaijani servicemen stripped the Armenian serviceperson, cut off her legs and fingers, placed a stone in her eye socket, and one of her severed fingers in her mouth and spray painted over her naked body.

Another case is that of a video circulated by Azerbaijani authorities, in which an Armenian POW can be seen lightly injured in the arm and receiving first aid by Azerbaijani soldiers. But several days later, the Azerbaijani side returned the dead body of the young man with signs of torture.

Unfortunately, these are not isolated cases, but the result of a decades-long state policy. None of those cases were investigated, no one has been punished. Moreover, last year, president Aliyev rewarded two servicemen, who had been previously charged with desecrating bodies of Armenian servicemen back in 2020.

This is his long-going policy. In 2012, Ilham Aliyev pardoned and rewarded Ramil Safarov, who had axed a sleeping Armenian soldier in Budapest. In 2016, president Aliyev rewarded an Azerbaijani servicemen who had decapitated the body of an Armenian soldier.

There is nothing surprising about that. In his nationwide address, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliev stated: “We are driving them (Armenians) away like dogs! Azerbaijani soldiers are driving them away like dogs.”

The Armenophobic state policy of Azerbaijan has been recorded by a number of prominent international organizations.

No Armenians live in the territories of Nagorno Karabakh occupied by Azerbaijan back in 2020. All those who did not manage to escape before the arrival of the Azerbaijani army were captured at best, executed at worst. Amnesty International also reported on the executions.

So it is clear that Armenians cannot live under Azerbaijani rule without any special and internationally controlled safety guarantees. Even more, Armenians cannot even travel through Azerbaijani checkpoint, because the events in the recent months have proved that Azerbaijani authorities may kidnap anyone, even those who are being transported by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The impossibility of Armenians traveling through Azerbaijan or Azerbaijani checkpoints was clear for everyone even back in 2020. For that obvious reason, the trilateral statement signed between Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan (on November 9, 2020), envisaged that the Lachin corridor shall be controlled by Russian peacekeepers. You may ask why Lachin road but not any other road… Just because Lachin road is geographically the only (the shortest) road that can be used by Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh to travel to Armenia without entering Azerbaijani settlements.

But both Russia and Azerbaijan have violated the trilateral statement, and the Lachin corridor is now controlled by Azerbaijan.

Here we have fresh developments. There are some reports that Azerbaijan has allowed the ICRC to transfer humanitarian goods to Nagorno Karabakh, but even if it will happen, it does not mean that the relevant provision of the trilateral statement or the decision of the International Court of Justice are being implemented.

Of course, being blockaded with availability of food is better than dying from hunger. But this is still a blockade without electricity, without natural gas, without gasoline, without possibility of traveling anywhere outside Nagorno-Karabakh and without any goods, except essential products (if essential products will be provided through the ICRC).

You may ask why Azerbaijan is doing this, why they need to torture 100 thousand Armenians. The answer is very simple: Azerbaijan wants to gain control of the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh – without Armenians. Just as it was done by Turkey back in 1915.

Thank you!

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