Blinken condemns blocking of Red Cross workers providing aid to Armenians in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev attends the Eurasian Economic Union Leaders' Summit in Moscow, Russia, on May 25. File Photo by Kremlin/UPI
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev attends the Eurasian Economic Union Leaders' Summit in Moscow, Russia, on May 25. File Photo by Kremlin/UPI | License Photo

July 30 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke Saturday with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev after Armenia accused the country of blocking humanitarian aid to the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Blinken expressed "deep concern" for the situation as well as the urgent need for free transit of commercial, humanitarian and private vehicles through the Lachin corridor, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.


"[Blinken] emphasized the need for compromise on alternative routes so humanitarian supplies can reach the population of Nagorno-Karabakh," Miller said. "The Secretary stressed the need for all parties to keep up positive momentum on peace negotiations."

Azerbaijan and Armenia have a fraught history, having been in conflict after the two nations became independent in 1918 upon the fall of the Russian Empire. The dispute went on hiatus when both nations became republics within the Soviet Union.

The two nations have fought two wars since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Nagorno-Karabakh region had significant autonomy under Soviet rule and came under the control of ethnic Armenians in Azerbaijan in 1994 as the Armenian military claimed land around the region itself.


In 2020, Azerbaijan reclaimed parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas in fighting which ended when Russia brokered an armistice and established the Lachin corridor for safe transit protected by Russian peacekeepers.

Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of blocking aid along the Lachin corridor for several days.

Meanwhile, the Nagorno-Karabakh region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has established a breakaway government, the Republic of Artasakh.

Gurgen Nersisyan, the state minister of the breakaway region's unrecognized government, said Saturday in a statement that a 68-year-old man who was being transported by Red Cross aid workers to Armenia for medical treatment was taken into custody by Azerbaijan.

"Azerbaijan always tried in every possible way to hinder the process of transferring patients to Armenia even through the ICRC and every time presented new conditions to the ICRC, and this was another step to create fear among people even to pass through the Lachin Corridor for treatment," Nersisyan said.

"This is the day-by-day consequences of recognizing the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and calling Artsakh 'Azerbaijan.'"

Nersisyan said the international community has been "inactive" in its condemnation of the "months-long crimes against the people of Artsakh."

Azerbaijan's Prosecutor General's Office identified the man taken into custody as Vagif Khachatryan, a citizen of the country, and accused him of committing "genocide" against Azerbaijani people in the first Nagorno-Karabakh war.


The claims of genocide come as Azerbaijan itself has faced growing concerns of genocidal statements and actions.

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