Azerbaijan on Thursday said that a recent statement by the EU foreign policy chief on the current situation in the Karabakh region is “regrettable.”
“The presented approach towards the situation in the region by (EU) High Representative (for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) Josep Borrell in his July 26 statement, based on the propaganda and political manipulations spread by Armenia, is regrettable,” Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Aykhan Hajizada said in a statement.
Hajizada said that Baku appreciates the EU’s support “to establish peace and stability in the region, as well as to the peace negotiations with Armenia,” but “ignoring” the grievances of Azerbaijan regarding the incomplete withdrawal of the Armenian forces from the region and presenting Azerbaijan’s establishment of a border checkpoint on the Lachin road as its closure is “fundamentally wrong.”
“Similarly, it must be made clear that the blatant misinterpretation of the relevant decisions of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will not yield results,” Hajizada said, indicating that an ICJ decision earlier this month “once more demonstrated that the protection of its own security by Azerbaijan is legitimate.”
On July 6, the ICJ unanimously rejected Yerevan’s request to modify the court’s February 2022 decision on the “Armenia v. Azerbaijan” case, in which one of its demands was to remove the border checkpoint established by Baku at the entrance of the Lachin road.
On Wednesday, Borrell said that the EU is "deeply concerned about the serious humanitarian situation" in the region, while also claiming that movement through the Lachin road "remains obstructed for more than seven months."
Responding to the claim, Hajizada said that vehicles belonging to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) pass through the road on a daily basis and that Azerbaijan continues to cooperate with the ICRC and facilitate the passage of medical supplies.
He further said that Azerbaijan made a proposal to use the Aghdam-Khankendi road and other alternative routes into the region for the transport of large amounts of cargo, while “taking into account threats originating from Armenia.”
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
In the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages and settlements from Armenian occupation during 44 days of fighting. The war ended with a Russia-brokered peace agreement.
Despite ongoing talks on a peace agreement, tensions between the neighboring countries increased in recent months concerning the Lachin road, the only land route giving Armenia access to Karabakh.