YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh accused Azerbaijan on Thursday of reneging on an agreement to reopen the Lachin corridor for shipments of badly needed humanitarian aid to the Armenian-populated region.
They indicated at the weekend that they agreed to let a Russian Red Cross truck enter Karabakh from the Azerbaijani town of Aghdam in return for Baku’s pledge to unblock the corridor. The truck delivered 15 tons of food and other essential items on Tuesday. The Lachin road connecting Karabakh to Armenia remains blocked by an Azerbaijani checkpoint set up there in April.
“The agreement was as follows: the Russian side will send its humanitarian shipment to Karabakh and in return for that Azerbaijan will open the Lachin corridor,” a Karabakh official, Davit Babayan, told RFE/RL’s Armenia Service. “But as we can see, Azerbaijan has once again failed to honor its commitments.”
A senior aide to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Wednesday blamed Stepanakert for the continuing blockade. He said that it is obstructing the “simultaneous opening” of the two roads agreed by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov in a September 1 phone call.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Thursday that the international community keeps pressing for the lifting of the Azerbaijani blockade that began last December and was tightened in June.
“All possible diplomatic efforts are being made to ensure the entry of humanitarian cargo into Nagorno-Karabakh and further supplies,” he said. “It is important to emphasize that representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh are fully involved in these negotiations and discussions.”
Babayan confirmed that involvement. He noted, though, that there are no direct contacts between Baku and Stepanakert.
Meanwhile, food shortages in Karabakh continued to worsen one week after the authorities started rationing bread in Stepanakert. Residents of the Karabakh capital received ration stamps entitling them to only half a loaf of bread a day per person.
One of them, Arevik Melkumyan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that she was unable to buy any bread on Wednesday and Thursday. The mother of four also complained about the skyrocketing prices of locally grown vegetables which farmers have trouble delivering to Stepanakert due to a severe lack of fuel.
“The situation is terrible,” said Melkumyan. “Tomatoes cost 3,000 drams (about $8) per kilogram while cucumbers 4,000 drams per kilo. How can we buy them?”