Karabakh Foreign Ministry Warns Azerbaijan Over Tourism Blockade

STEPANAKERT–The Foreign Ministry of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on Friday issued a statement condemning efforts by Azerbaijan to prevent foreign citizens from traveling to the nascent republic.

“Azerbaijan has recently intensified it efforts to make travel to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic more difficult, a destructive initiative of Official Baku to dissuade foreign citizens from visiting the republic,” the statement says. “The Azerbaijani leaderships attempts to interfere in this regard are unwarranted and must be considered as yet another manifestation of its hostility towards our country.”

The statement explains that Karabakh has been “visited by tens of thousands of guests from many countries in the civilized world” since it declared independence in 1991.

“Missions of international organizations, including NGOs, and businesses constantly operate in the Republic,” the statement said, adding that despite Azerbaijan’s efforts, the Foreign Ministry annually registers a 15% increase in the number of tourists visiting the country. “This testifies to the sincere and increasing interest of the international community towards the Karabakh phenomenon.”

In an effort to quell this progress, Azerbaijan’s authorities “often resort to blackmail and other actions contrary to international legal and moral standards,” the statement adds. Such efforts, it continues, are an “encroachment on the interests of the people of Karabakh and hamper confidence-building measures necessary to settle the Karabakh-Azerbaijani conflict.”

In an apparent warning to Azerbaijan, the statement said that over the years, Karabakh “has developed as an independent and democratic state, which is able to defend its sovereignty and the democratic rights and liberties of all its citizens.”

“The Azerbaijani leadership should put an end to its destructive steps and direct its political potential to negotiating a mutually acceptable peace and stability in the South Caucasus, with the consideration of the existing realities,” it concludes.

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