Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has accused Azerbaijan of preparing a genocide against the ethnic Armenians living in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. He said that Azerbaijan’s blockade of the only road connecting Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh is a deliberate attempt to starve and destroy the population of about 120,000 people.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous territory within Azerbaijan that has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war ended in 1994. In 2020, a six-week war erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region, resulting in Azerbaijan regaining control of most of the surrounding areas and some parts of Nagorno-Karabakh itself. A ceasefire agreement was brokered by Russia, which deployed peacekeeping troops to the region.
However, tensions have remained high since then, with both sides accusing each other of violating the ceasefire and human rights. Armenia has also complained that Azerbaijan has not allowed humanitarian aid and supplies to reach Nagorno-Karabakh through the only road that links it to Armenia, known as the Lachin corridor. Armenia says that this road is vital for the survival and security of the people in Nagorno-Karabakh, who are facing shortages of food, medicine, water, electricity and other essentials.
Pashinyan made his allegations of genocide on Friday, saying that “Azerbaijan is preparing the genocide of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh” . He also said that Baku’s actions pose “a threat to security” in the South Caucasus region. He called on the international community to intervene and pressure Azerbaijan to lift the blockade and respect the rights of the ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Pashinyan’s claims were echoed by Luis Moreno Ocampo, the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), who issued a report on Tuesday warning that Azerbaijan is committing genocide by inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. He urged the UN Security Council to refer the matter to the ICC and take action to prevent further atrocities.
Azerbaijan has denied any wrongdoing and accused Armenia of spreading false information and propaganda. It says that it has the right to control its own territory and that it is providing humanitarian assistance to all civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh, regardless of their ethnicity. It also says that it is complying with the ceasefire agreement and cooperating with the Russian peacekeepers.
The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has been one of the longest-running and most intractable disputes in the former Soviet Union. It has claimed thousands of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. It has also strained relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as their regional allies, such as Russia, Turkey and Iran. The international community has called for a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict, but so far, no progress has been made.