March 11, 2023
Statement of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum’s Armenian National Platform regarding the 3-month-long blockade of the Lachin Corridor, killing of three Artsakh police officers, and on the ongoing developments in Georgia

March 10, 2023, Yerevan

On March 5th, 2023, an Azerbaijani terrorist-diversion group infiltrated into the territory of Artsakh and committed a war crime, by killing three police officers and injured one who were moving through the territory by car. This incident is yet another example of the violent actions and ongoing intimidation of Azerbaijani criminals against the people of Artsakh. Since the recent war that Azerbaijan initiated in 2020 and the subsequent cease-fire, Azerbaijani soldiers have killed dozens civilians and border guards in Artsakh.

Since December 12, 2022, the Aliyev regime has placed the people of Artsakh under siege, preventing the supply of food, medicine, and other essential humanitarian goods, as well as electricity and gas. This has been done with the intention of causing hunger, frost, and an economic collapse among the Armenian population of Artsakh. Through these inhumane tactics, the Aliyev dictatorship has demonstrated yet again that Artsakh cannot be a part of Azerbaijan and international community must recognize its right of remedial secession (secession for salvation).

Russian the so-called peacekeeping forces’ inactivity, and their apparent cooperation with the corrupt, kleptocracy of the Baku regime is yet another attack against the people of Artsakh, leaves no doubt that the Kremlin’s true aim is to keep the Armenian population of Artsakh in captivity. This is being done in order to contribute the political and economic interests of the Aliyev regime, as well as to force Republic of Armenia to relinquish its sovereignty and join the Russia-Belarus alliance, using the threat of making the people of Artsakh starve.

In today’s Azerbaijan, there is a consistent infringement of the rights of ethnic Azerbaijanis. Over the past two decades, thousands of Azerbaijanis, including the opposition party representatives, CS representatives, and ordinary citizens, have to leave Azerbaijan to escape the persecution and oppression of Aliyev’s most regressive dictatorship. The ruling kleptocratic regime in Azerbaijan has been carrying out a systematic campaign of hatred against Armenians at the state level, as documented by the UN International Court of Justice in its ruling on December 7, 2021, which called on Azerbaijan to stop spreading this hateful rhetoric. Moreover, the same court recently ruled that Azerbaijan must open the Lachin Corridor and allow free movement of goods and people. Up to the moment, Azerbaijan has failed to comply with either decision.

The situation indicates that the oppressive and bloodthirsty regime of Ilham Aliyev has planned a much harsher and worse fate for the Armenians of Artsakh than for its own citizens. Aliyev has been open about his stance that Armenians in Karabakh who do not submit to his rule must leave their homeland. Under such circumstances, the only viable option for ensuring the safety and protection of the people of Artsakh is for them to separate from Azerbaijan for salvation, based on the precedent set by Kosovo. One of the key justifications for this move is that international human rights organizations have deemed Artsakh to have stronger democratic institutions than Azerbaijan.

In this sense, we welcome the European Parliament’s Annual Report on the Implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, 2022, which was adopted on January 18, 2023. The report calls for the immediate reopening of the Lachin Corridor for freedom of movement and reiterates the right to self-determination of the people of Artsakh as one of the three fundamental principles for resolving the conflict. We also welcome the EU’s decision to deploy a civilian observation mission on Armenia’s eastern borders, which has already become an important component of Armenia’s security and of the ensuring peace and stability in the region.

We would like to express our great appreciation for the statement made by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on March 3, 2023, in which he stated that the relationship between Armenia and Azerbaijan should be resolved based on the principle of territorial integrity while ensuring the people of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) have the right to self-determination, which he considers equal in importance to the principle of territorial integrity.

We also express our gratitude to the French Parliament’s two chambers, which had previously passed a resolution with an overwhelming majority, urging the French government to recognize the independence of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh).

We also highly value Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum Steering Committee co-chairs Statement adopted on December 23, 2022 regarding the situation in the Lachine Corridor.

Also, considering the recent developments in Georgia and the dangerous impact of Kremlin’s narratives on it, we stand in solidarity with the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum’s Georgian National Platform and the democratic forces in Georgia. We congratulate them on successfully revoking the notorious “Foreign Agents” bill by the Georgian Parliament. We hope that the Georgian government will continue to maintain its dedication on providing a favorable environment for civil society organizations and ensuring media freedom.

Considering all the aforementioned circumstances and the urgent need to protect the people of Artsakh from Azerbaijan’s inhumane politics, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum’s Armenian National Platform calls:

To the European Union to take measures to implement the following steps:

  1. Replacement of Russian “peacekeeping” forces with peacemaking forces authorized by the United Nations, their deployment in Artsakh and 7 regions around it, creating a demilitarized security zone, as proposed in the peace resolution packages for the Artsakh conflict prepared by the OSCE Minsk Group;
  2. Establishment and application of international sanctions against Azerbaijan to prevent the genocide towards the people of Artsakh and due to Azerbaijan’s failure to adhere to the verdicts of the United Nations International Court;
  3. International investigation and punishment of all war crimes committed in the region;
  4. In parallel with the return of Azerbaijani refugees to Artsakh, ensuring and realizing the right to return for Armenian refugees from Artsakh to the regions of Hadrut, Shushi, Shahumyan, Askeran, Martakert, and Martuni regions of the unrecognized Republic of Artsakh, currently occupied by Azerbaijani troops;
  5. UN (international) guardianship of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh), after which holding a referendum in the Artsakh, through which the people of Artsakh will decide their own destiny.

To the Government of the Republic of Armenia:

  1. To start the withdrawal process from the CSTO, EAEU, military and economic alliance formats and agreements with Russia, on the grounds that the Russian side has consistently and maliciously not fulfilled its alliance obligations;
  2. To apply to the European Union to sign an Association Agreement with the EU and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreement, and to simultaneously seek candidate status for EU membership;
  3. To apply for NATO membership of Armenia.