EU comes up with plan to open Lachin road linking Armenia

EU comes up with plan to open Lachin road linking Armenia

The European Union proposed a plan to “gradually reopen” the Lachin road, the Karabakh region’s only land link with Armenia, and the Aghdam-Khankendi road, according to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting Daily Sabah, citing a statement released by the European Council President Charles Michel’s office on Friday.

Michel’s team and the EU’s special representative for the South Caucasus, Toivo Klaar, “have been in frequent contact with Baku, Yerevan and representatives of Karabakh Armenians to work out a solution for unblocking access” between Karabakh and Armenia, Michel’s spokesperson, Ecaterina Casinge, said in a statement.

“Michel has proposed a step-by-step approach which would reflect a sequencing in the full-fledged operation of the Lachin corridor and the opening of the Agdam route,” Casinge said.

According to the EU’s position, “the Lachin corridor must be unblocked” in line with the decision of the Hague-based International Court of Justice, she stressed.

The EU diplomats also noted that using the alternative Aghdam-Khankendi road, suggested earlier by Azerbaijan, “to provide supplies can also be part of a concrete and sustainable solution to the provision of urgent and daily basic needs.”

The EU has also argued for addressing “legacies of the conflict to facilitate a long-term sustainable resolution” beyond the current situation, Casinge explained.

Despite ongoing talks over a long-term peace agreement, tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia rose in recent months over the Lachin road, the only land route giving Armenia access to the Karabakh region.

In April, Azerbaijan established a border checkpoint to prevent the illegal transport of military arms and equipment to the region.

According to Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry, the “wide-range abuse of the Lachin road by Armenia over past three years necessitated Azerbaijan’s legitimate and legal action of establishing a border checkpoint.”

Armenia accused Azerbaijan of causing a “humanitarian crisis” in the region that Baku denied, proposing the use of the Aghdam-Khankendi road for shipments to the area.

Michel, who presides over meetings of EU leaders and represents the bloc in international affairs, has made significant diplomatic efforts to reconcile Armenia and Azerbaijan following their conflict in 2020.

Relations between the former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.