France, US urge ‘immediate’ end to Nagorno-Karabakh blockade: Paris

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France and the United States have demanded the “immediate” reopening of a key corridor to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, the French foreign ministry said on Friday.

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.

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As a result, the mountainous region of some 120,000 people has been running short of food, medicines and fuel.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and her US counterpart Antony Blinken in a telephone call on Thursday “stressed the need to immediately re-establish free circulation along the Lachin corridor,” the foreign ministry said.

“The grave humanitarian consequences of the current blockading of Nagorno-Karabakh are unacceptable,” it added.

Amnesty International on Thursday urged Azerbaijani forces and Russian peacekeepers to unblock the road immediately to end the “humanitarian crisis.”

Armenia has repeatedly accused Russia, a powerbroker between the ex-Soviet republics, of standing in the way of ending the crisis.

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.

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