Azerbaijan rejects French allegations over Lachin road

Azerbaijan rejects French allegations over Lachin road

The French Foreign Ministry is under fire after it accused Azerbaijan of a “blockade” of the Lachin road, the only land route giving Armenia access to Karabakh. According to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting Daily Sabah, Azerbaijan on Wednesday rejected the allegations.

“We once again remind that it is absurd to portray as a ‘blockade’ the activity of the Lachin border checkpoint established in accordance with Azerbaijan’s obligation to guarantee the safety of citizens, vehicles and cargo on the Lachin road, as well as to prevent the misuse of the Lachin road by Armenia for military and illegal economic purposes,” a statement from the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said. Armenia claims the Lachin road is blockaded by Azerbaijan, a claim Baku denies.

In a statement on Tuesday following a phone conversation with the Armenian foreign minister, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna deplored the “blockade” of the road. She stressed that Azerbaijan must comply with its international obligations, in particular, “the provisional measures indicated by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its order of February 22, which are binding.” Reacting to Paris, Azerbaijan regretted that France does not support Azerbaijan’s proposals to establish alternative routes into Karabakh, such as the Aghdam-Khankendi road, which it said is supported by the EU and the Red Cross.

At the same time, the French side did not react to the violation of the agreement by Armenia, which is using alternative roads to further aggravate the tension in the region, Baku said. It also said that the French side “did not pay attention” to the unanimous rejection of Armenia’s request to remove the checkpoint by the ICJ on July 6. Despite ongoing talks over a long-term peace agreement, tensions between the neighboring countries rose in recent months over the Lachin road, where Azerbaijan established a border checkpoint in April on the grounds of preventing the illegal transport of military arms and equipment to the region.

The two former Soviet republics have been archrivals since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions. It culminated in 44 days of war in 2020, when Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages and settlements from Armenian occupation. The war ended with a Russia-brokered peace agreement.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Azerbaijan said it detained a member of a sabotage group of the Armenian military as they attempted to infiltrate the country’s Kalbajar district in East Zangezur. “On August 16, around 11:15 a.m. (7:15 a.m. GMT), the intelligence-sabotage group of the Armenian armed forces tried to infiltrate the territory of Azerbaijan using the gaps between the combat positions located in the direction of the settlement of Istisu, the Kalbajar district, in order to carry out terrorist-sabotage operations,” a statement by the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said. The attempt of the Armenian military was prevented “as a result of the vigilance of our units,” the statement said, adding that a member of the sabotage group was detained by military personnel. The detained person was injured and other members of the sabotage group were forced to retreat, it also said. “Information about the detained member of the group is currently being clarified. Additional information will be provided to the public,” the statement concluded.