German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday called for a reopening of a key corridor to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, after talks with her Armenian counterpart.
Baerbock, whose country leads a European Union mission in the region, told reporters that the escalating humanitarian situation made it essential that “the blockade end immediately.”
“The supermarket shelves are almost empty, medication is lacking... family members are stuck in Armenia and can’t get back to their loved ones, schoolchildren have to freeze in these icy temperatures because the energy supplies are cut off,” Baerbock said.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
Since mid-December, a group of Azerbaijanis has been blocking the only road into Karabakh from Armenia to protest what they claim is illegal mining causing environmental damage.
As a result, the mountainous region of some 120,000 people has been running short of food, medicines and fuel.
Armenia has repeatedly accused Russia, a powerbroker between the ex-Soviet republics, of standing in the way of ending a “humanitarian crisis.”
The EU set up a temporary monitoring mission last October along the Armenian side of the border with Azerbaijan aimed at restoring peace and security in the area and building confidence between the two sides.
Baerbock said after talks with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan that the mission aimed to ensure “more stability and above all trust” in the volatile region.
This includes establishing emergency hotlines between national and local authorities.
“We have in recent years been forced to see that any little spark can lead to a fire in the area – reliable communication channels lessen this risk,” Baerbock said.
She said Germany as head of the mission would coordinate with local police and civilian experts.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, ethnic Armenian separatists in Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan. The ensuing conflict claimed around 30,000 lives.
Another flare-up in violence in 2020 cost more than 6,500 lives and ended with a Russian-brokered truce that saw Armenia cede territories it had controlled for decades.
Baerbock noted the “enormous human suffering” caused by 30 years of conflict in the region.
“We have no illusions - there can be no solution overnight,” she said.
Armenia asks Russia's Putin to act to end Karabakh's isolation
Karabakh shuts schools due to gas, electricity shortages amid Azerbaijan blockade
Armenia asks Russia's Putin to act to end Karabakh's isolationArmenia on Tuesday asked President Vladimir Putin to take a tougher line on Nagorno-Karabakh and for Russian peacekeepers to end what it calls ... World News
Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of following ‘policy of ethnic cleansing’Armenia on Thursday accused arch-foe Azerbaijan of conducting a “policy of ethnic cleansing” and forcing ethnic Armenians to leave the breakaway ... World News
Blinken urges Azerbaijan to lift Lachin corridor blockade, resume Armenia peace talksLast week, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers called on the Biden administration to use “maximum pressure” and even sanctions on Aliyev to end the blockade of what they said were 120,000 people in Nagorno-Karabakh. World News
Karabakh shuts schools due to gas, electricity shortages amid Azerbaijan blockadeAuthorities in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh shut schools on Friday due to gas and electricity shortages amid a blockade by arch-enemy ... World News