Armenia’s Humanitarian Aid Disruption Spills The Beans

When people are in a dire need for humanitarian aid, how it gets into their hands is immaterial. Remember the Israelites who were wandering in the desert? They yelled to their newly chosen God for food. The food came in the form of Manna* from the sky and the yelling ended.

*Manna, according to the Bible, is an edible substance which God provided for the Israelites during their 40-year period of traveling in the desert.

Recently, Armenia claimed an urgent need for humanitarian aid to the Armenians residing in Karabakh. They blamed Azerbaijan for blocking aid deliveries but their claim has a huge political ticket attached to it.

Armenia and Azerbaijan, two countries in the South Caucasus have been at loggerheads since the 1st Nagorno-Karabakh War, a conflict that took place from February 1988 to May 1994, in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in southwestern Azerbaijan.

The conflict took a new turn when Azerbaijan came out a victor after the 2020 44-day 2nd Karabakh War.

Azerbaijan liberating the territory from the Armenian illegal occupation of its sovereign land did not solve the problem of having to deal with Armenians provocateurs, still living in the liberated territory, and thus achieving the end game goal, peace.

Armenia decided to remain hostile and rejectionist.

Karabakh Armenians, the hassle they are, one way they are handling the humanitarian aid they yell and protest they urgently need and which Azerbaijan is willing, ready, and able to deliver to Khankendi*, the small remaining Armenian enclave, is to block the delivery.

*Khankendi means the village of Khan, built in the 18th century by Karabakh’s Khan. In 1923, after Armenia invaded and took control of the Karabakh region, the town name was changed by the Armenians to Stepanakert, after Stepan Shaumyan*, a notorious Armenian Communist.

*The late Shaumyan was an Armenian Bolshevik revolutionary politically active throughout the Caucasus. His role as a leader of the Russian Revolution in the Caucasus earned him the nickname of the “Caucasian Lenin,” a reference to the Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin.

Humanitarian aid talks, lham Aliyev, president of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia
lham Aliyev, president of the Republic of Azerbaijan (left) and Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia (right) engaged in peace talks.

Armenia Elevates Tension in the Region

Most of the American public hardly knows or is familiar with the facts about Azerbaijan’s location, geopolitics, culture and history. On the other hand, due to Armenian activism in the US and their years of anti-Azerbaijan propaganda, some Americans who have heard about Azerbaijan through Armenian propaganda have formed some sort of negative opinion about this country.

Some 30 years of Armenian’s illegal occupation of 20% of its sovereign land that occurred immediately after it relieved itself from 70 years of the Communist-Soviet yoke, hindered Azerbaijan’s natural progress.

This state of affairs caused the Azerbaijani nation to live with uncertainty, mired them economically and they were cognitive of a possible new war, while skirmishes at the line of contact with Armenia, formed after the 1st Karabakh War, continued. It also greatly and painfully saddened the Azerbaijanis to see one million members of their nation, Armenia’s expellees from Karabakh, displaced internally in their homeland.

Now, three years after the end of the 2nd Karabakh War and most of its lost territory liberated from Armenia, Azerbaijan is on a new economic and political trajectory. Its end goal is to be the South Caucasus leading nation, a friend of the West.

That has caught the eyes of the west, including the United States.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been involved in the ongoing Azerbaijan-Armenia negotiations to arrive at ending the conflict, recognizing each one’s sovereignty and borders and starting cooperation beneficial to both countries.

In a phone call to Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, on July 29, 2023, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Mr. Aliyev discussed the peace process between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as the latest situation in the region.

Both agreed that Armenia’s current provocative steps are hindering the peace process. The continued illegal presence of Armenia’s armed forces in Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory continues to cause military tension in the region.

Lachin Border Checkpoint vs. Aghdam-Khankendi Road

Mr. Blinken delved into the difficulties at hand: Armenia’s recent military provocation at the Lachin border checkpoint, firing at Azerbaijani border guards, smuggling attempts, and sending unauthorized trucks to Azerbaijan’s territory.

Armenia has opposed the Lachin border checkpoint so it can continue with its trouble-causing behavior.

Since peace negotiations have begun, President Ilham Aliyev made several statements that shone a light on obstacles to the peace process.

Azerbaijan put forward a proposal to use the “Aghdam-Khankendi” road so the needs of the Armenian residents of Karabakh could be met. The proposal is supported by the European Union and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Armenia rejected and opposed the proposal.

That makes it clear that Armenia’s claim that Armenians in Karabakh are facing a troubling “humanitarian situation” and a “blockade” is a lie and political manipulation. It is clearly an attempt to misguide the international community and media that are not paying attention.

According to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, it is unacceptable for Armenia to continuously engage in disruptive activities and its ongoing actions to hinder the peace negotiations. Also to disrupt the development of contact and productive dialogue between Azerbaijan and the Karabakh Armenian residents.

Since the end of the 2020 war, Azerbaijan made it clear that it is determined to reintegrate the Armenian residents and accept them as citizens of Azerbaijan.

As for the US position, Antony Blinken confirmed to Mr. Aliyev the US’ continued support for the peace treaty negotiations Azerbaijan and Armenia have been holding on and off. Also, the significance of maintaining positive dynamics in these negotiations. The Secretary also emphasized how important is the passage through the Lachin border checkpoint as well as the passage through other suggested alternative routes for the delivery of essentials to the Armenians in Khankendi.

EU Approach to Humanitarian Aid Delivery to Khankendi

The European Union member states are in closer proximity than the US to the South Caucasus. Therefore, they keep a watchful eye on the two states, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

So far the European council held six intensive high-level meetings that began in early May 2023, in Brussels, Belgium, Chișinău, Capital of Moldova, Washington, D.C., USA, Moscow, Russia, and on the Azerbaijan-Armenia bilateral border, attended by Azerbaijan and Armenia leaders, and the Deputy Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers of both countries.

Charles Michel, the European Council President made remarks after the Council’s 6th meeting, with Azerbaijan President Mr. Aliyev and Armenia Prime Minister Mr. Pashinyan, in regards to the use of Aghdam-Khankendi road which Armenia opposes and even blocked with concrete road barriers.

Normalization Is the End Goal

From a neutral observer’s point of view, the only side that has not yet been decisive or taken irreversible steps to achieve the end goal – peace – is Armenia.

After all, it was Armenia that invaded Azerbaijan in the late 80s and the early 90s and ended up illegally occupying 20% of Azerbaijan’s sovereign land.

It was Armenia that lost the 2020 war in which Azerbaijan simply liberated its territory from illegal Armenian occupation against four United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. Those resolutions demanded Armenia’s withdrawal from the territory. Nevertheless, so far Armenia is the intransigent party.

The European Council is distressed over the increasing tensions on the ground in Karabakh and seeks to mediate progress of normalization efforts.

First on the normalization agenda is humanitarian supplies. According to Armenia’s deceptive propaganda claim that brought about protests around the world, Azerbaijan failed to allow its provision. That was false.

European Council

The European Council says the current situation around the Lachin corridor entanglement is unsustainable and is in no one’s interest. They want to see concrete and useful steps taken to normalize the situation.

The Lachin road must be respectfully opened, less any hindrance. Azerbaijan’s willingness to also provide humanitarian aid via the Aghdam-Khankendi road must be seen by Armenia as a positive option. It is now clear that Armenia does not sincerely want to see humanitarian aid deliveries. Armenia is using the Armenians in the Armenian Karabakh enclave as pawns by angrily claiming aid is in short supply and does not meet the needs of the population.

International Committee of the Red Cross

As important as the EC is the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). There must be free movement of the ICRC in cases of required evacuation and earnest deliveries of medical supplies. Saving life and treating the sick should precede political agenda.

The Normalization Agenda

It is clear that Azerbaijan and Armenia can only achieve peace and coexistence and even cooperation if the tumultuous state of affairs ends and the following matters are resolved and closed:

Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity

Armenia and Azerbaijan must acknowledge, with full respect, each country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, based on the understanding that Armenia’s territory covers 29,800 km2 (11,505 sq. miles) and Azerbaijan’s 86,600 km2 (33,437 sq. miles).

Borders Demarcation

As a political framework for border demarcation, both countries must unequivocally adhere and hold a commitment to the 1991 Almaty Declaration.*

*On December 8, 1991, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus leaders agreed to the Belavezha Accords, declaring the Soviet Union dissolved and forming the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS); the Alma-Ata Protocols were the founding declarations and principles of the CIS.

Transport and Economic Connectivity

Transportation and mobility free flow leads to economic progress. Regional linkage is the basis for the betterment of life conditions.

Future transport arrangement modalities must be reciprocal and hold respect to each country’s sovereignty and jurisdiction principles.

The plan to construct a railway connection with the readiness of the European Union to contribute financially to it could be undertaken immediately.

Human Rights and Security Aspects

The Armenian population in Karabakh who choose to remain living there will have to become Azerbaijani citizens. As applies to all world’s population, they must receive reassurances that their human rights and security will be fully respected and intact. This will require the Republic of Azerbaijan and representatives of Armenians living in the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast to hold direct dialogue. The result should provide much-needed trust and confidence on both sides involved.

Prisoners of War

When all the points of agreement mentioned above are cordially met, both Azerbaijan and Armenia should release the soldiers who inadvertently crossed to the adversary’s side.

It is also important that both sides will address and try to resolve the fate of missing persons.

As for the landmines debacle that Armenia planted and the urgency to demine the liberated territory so that the Azerbaijanis expelled by Armenia can return to their homes, both sides must exchange as much information as possible on the sites of landmines in order to accelerate the demining process.

What Is to Expect Next

Real progress could be made if both Armenia and Azerbaijan agree to and resolve the above listed challenges. Armenia must end its ongoing obfuscation of facts, political ruse and incitement against Azerbaijan. Harsh rhetoric and periodic violence must stop in order to bring forth an amiable environment that is a better base for peace and normalization talks.

Charles Michel, the European Council President’s declared their intention is to invite Azerbaijan and Armenia’s leaders to attend another meeting in Brussels, after the 2023 year summer, and also hold another pentalateral meeting, in Granada in the margins of the next European Political Community Summit in which the leaders of France and Germany will partake.

I personally hope that this forthcoming 7th meeting with the European Council will be the last one before Azerbaijan and Armenia close the book of war and open the book of peace and coexistence.

We are all waiting with bated breath for a positive outcome, resolving the humanitarian aid situation.

Nurit Greenger
During the 2006 second Lebanon War, Nurit Greenger, referenced then as the "Accidental Reporter" felt compelled to become an activist. Being an 'out-of-the-box thinker, Nurit is a passionately committed advocate for Jews, Israel, the United States, and the Free World in general. From Southern California, Nurit serves as a "one-woman Hasbarah army" for Israel who believes that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.

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