Azerbaijan letting Nagorno-Karabakh starve?
A humanitarian disaster is unfolding in Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave predominantly inhabited by Armenians within Azerbaijan’s internationally recognised borders. For months Azerbaijan has blocked all access to the region, which has been declared the independent Republic of Artsakh by its Armenian inhabitants. Armenia has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Europe’s press voices dismay and demands action.
Capitulate or die
This is a hopeless situation, La Repubblica laments in a commentary published on 14 August:
“The siege of Nagorno-Karabakh has entered its final phase. The 120,000 Armenians living in this area inside Azerbaijan have only two options left: to capitulate or starve. ... As the harvest season draws to an end, the little food that had enabled the population to survive is also becoming scarce: a limited amount of fruit and vegetables, bread for which people queue up for hours in the blazing sun. Without oil, salt and sugar, food cannot be preserved. There is a shortage of medicines, hygiene products, care materials and baby food. Electricity is only available for a few hours a day, which affects the functioning of the water pumps.”
Set up an airlift
Religious historian Benoit Lannoo sees a glimmer of hope in the Belgian Foreign Minister’s trip to the South Caucasus. He demands in La Libre Belgique:
“Only the international community — the UN and/or the EU — can still alleviate the suffering of the people in Stepanakert and the surrounding area. The UN Security Council could, for example, set up an airlift. ... Our foreign minister Hadja Lahbib, who will be visiting Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan from 21 to 25 August, could for example — in consultation with France and Spain — take the initiative to turn the EU mission into a real peacekeeping mission and guarantee that the hundred thousand Armenians left in Artsakh have a future on their ancestral lands.”
The die is cast
The passing of the region into Azerbaijan’s hands is probably unavoidable, says Szabad Európa:
“In 2022, Baku and Yerevan started negotiations aimed at finding a final solution to the conflict. The further the process progresses, the more inevitable it seems that Nagorno-Karabakh will be reannexed by Azerbaijan. ... This position is tacitly supported by various mediators in the peace talks, including the US, the European Union and Russia.”
EU’s silence could have been bought with gas
Focused on its own economic interests, Brussels won’t do much to help those affected by the blockade, fears openDemocracy:
“Baku’s intention seems twofold: to persuade the international community that there is no blockade and to create another humanitarian pressure mechanism to increase Karabakh’s reliance on Azerbaijan. Despite the escalating crisis and human rights violations, the lack of real Western pressure on Azerbaijan may also indicate the EU’s alignment with Baku’s conditions on the future of Nagorno-Karabakh. Perhaps the gas deal between Brussels and President Aliyev plays a role. Concluded in the summer of 2022, it will increase the amount of fuel Azerbaijan supplies to the EU.”