Azerbaijan establishes checkpoint on Lachin-Khankendi road, leaving two choices for Karabakh's Armenian minority

Politics Analytics 24 April 2023 10:46 (UTC +04:00)
Azerbaijan establishes checkpoint on Lachin-Khankendi road, leaving two choices for Karabakh's Armenian minority
Elchin Alioghlu
Elchin Alioghlu
Read more

BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 24. The units of the Azerbaijani State Border Service established a checkpoint on the sovereign territories of Azerbaijan on the border with Armenia, at the beginning of the Lachin-Khankendi road at 12:00 (GMT +4) on April 23 adequately to the unilateral establishment of a checkpoint by Armenia at the entrance to the road on the border with Azerbaijan on April 22, Trend reports.

The official information published by Azerbaijan indicates that the geopolitical realities that have developed in the South Caucasus continue to objectively and constructively change after the 2020 Second Karabakh War.

According to the Spokesperson for Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Aykhan Hajizada, Azerbaijan, due to misuse of the Lachin-Khankendi road by Armenia and resulting security threats, has established a checkpoint on the border between the two countries.

“In line with obligations of the Trilateral Statement [of November 10, 2020, signed by Azerbaijani, Armenian and Russian leaders following the second Karabakh war], in the framework of this measure of security guarantee by the Republic of Azerbaijan for the movement of citizens, vehicles and cargo through the Lachin-Khankendi road, proper conditions will be ensured for the transparent and regulated passage of Armenian residents living in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan from this checkpoint to Armenia and Azerbaijan in both directions,” the ministry said.

The establishment of the mentioned checkpoint does not restrict the use of the Lachin-Khankendi road by Armenians living in Karabakh and is another confirmation of the sovereign right and sovereignty of the country. Since Armenia unilaterally established a checkpoint on the road, Azerbaijan had to take adequate steps.

The command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent [temporarily deployed in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh in accordance with the trilateral statement] and the Russian-Turkish monitoring center were also informed about this.

After the establishment of the checkpoint, the Armenians living in Karabakh should accept the proposal of the Azerbaijani authorities and start contacts on reintegration issues. The sooner this process begins, the higher will be the standard of living of the local Armenian population. The Russian peacekeeping contingent shouldn’t hamper this process but should contribute to ensuring stability.

Contrary to the provisions of the Trilateral Statement of November 10, 2020, Armenia and illegal Armenian military units [which weren’t withdrawn from Karabakh] used the road for military purposes, including for transporting mines. The plundered natural resources of Azerbaijan were transported in the same way.

After the start of the peaceful protest rally of Azerbaijani eco-activists on the Lachin-Khankendi road, Armenia continued mine terror and sabotages. The abuse of the road by Armenia is a threat to the lives of Azerbaijani civilians. This situation was unacceptable for the people and the state of Azerbaijan.

Protection of its sovereign territories from unlawful interference and maintenance of control at border crossing points is the sovereign and inalienable right of a state.

The separatist regime in Azerbaijan’s Khankendi, fallen in panic and hysteria, immediately issued a statement.

The separatist junta, led by the so-called “president” of Karabakh Arayik Harutyunyan, claimed that the trilateral statement is "violated by Moscow".

The so-called "Security Council" of Karabakh urgently convened in Khankendi adopted a statement and came up with an absurd idea that the "Establishment of a border checkpoint by Azerbaijan on the Lachin-Khankendi road on April 23 means that Armenians from Karabakh will definitely become hostages of Azerbaijan".

"We expect that effective steps will be taken as soon as possible to resolve the security and humanitarian problems faced by the Armenians of Karabakh. If such steps are not taken, we'll have to think about what to do next," the statement said.

Apparently, the separatists in Khankendi chose a very aggressive tone, issued an ultimatum, and threatened the Russian peacekeeping contingent.

What really happened?

Despite numerous statements and warnings from Azerbaijan, after the end of the Second Karabakh War, Armenia constantly violates the agreements. Armenia continues to transfer weapons, ammunition, military equipment and manpower to the territories under the temporary control of the Russian peacekeeping contingent.

Mines are also supplied. On April 22, three servicemen of the Azerbaijan Army were injured as a result of the explosion of mines transferred from Armenia.

As for the establishment of a checkpoint on the conditional state border, the first step was taken by Armenia, and it was Armenia that set up a checkpoint there.

The checkpoint established by Azerbaijan will not create obstacles for the Armenian civilians. At the same time, it should be stressed that [owing to the checkpoint’s establishment] the inhabitants of Lachin, who were forced to leave their homes during the 30-year occupation, will also return.

Under such conditions, Baku cannot turn a blind eye to the continuous supply of weapons and manpower by Armenia to the separatists during the period when the internally displaced persons begin to return.

The paradoxical situation is that over the past 30 years, Armenia, which has constantly appealed to all international organizations, the West, as well as Russia to protect its territorial integrity and inviolability of borders, not only does not recognize the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of Azerbaijan but ignores this issue.

The establishment of the checkpoint by Azerbaijan is a mandatory step and does not violate any international legal acts, including the terms of the Trilateral Statement, which ensures the unhindered movement of Armenians along the Lachin-Khankendi road.

On the contrary, the establishment of the checkpoint will prevent the illegal transfer of weapons, ammunition and manpower from Armenia to the territories currently under the control of the peacekeeping contingent, and will reduce the number of armed provocations by Armenian separatists against Azerbaijani army and civilians.

Having installed the checkpoint, Baku actually fulfilled its obligations to ensure the safety of our citizens.

Peaceful Armenians can freely use the Lachin-Khankendi road in both directions.

As for the trilateral statement, Baku has taken a very effective step towards fulfilling the terms of this document by establishing a checkpoint and specifying the area of ​​responsibility of the peacekeeping contingent on the Lachin-Khankendi road.

This step is fully in the interests of Russia because the peacekeeping contingent will be able to control the road more strictly.

Armenia is trying with all its might to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty. It was noted that extraterritorial approaches are unacceptable. Then why should Armenia use the territory of Azerbaijan against its sovereignty?

... The day after the start of the protests of eco-activists and NGO representatives on the Lachin-Khankendi road, Armenians started fake propaganda, and they still claim that "Armenians from Karabakh are experiencing a humanitarian catastrophe".

There is no doubt that this shameful flow of disinformation will intensify after the establishment of the checkpoint.

However, Armenia must understand once and for all that there is no place for Armenian armed formations, terrorists and sabotage groups on the territory of Azerbaijan.

As for the Armenian minority of Karabakh, their choice is simple: either accept Azerbaijani citizenship and reintegrate into Azerbaijan and its society, or leave the country.

Those who wish to stay must accept the proposal of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan, which is still in force, and start discussing issues related to reintegration because the sooner this process begins, the sooner the Karabakh Armenians will get out of the whirlpool into which they were thrown by the terrorist junta in Khankendi and begin to live normally.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in his recent statements consistently noted that by the Prague and Sochi documents the Armenian leadership recognized the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan, and the statements of the junta in Khankendi, the Armenian diaspora and revanchist forces in Armenia are simply nonsense.

For the Armenian residents of Karabakh, who think differently and persist in separatism, the path is clear.