Nagorno-Karabakh and the risk of war in the South Caucasus

People of Nagorno-Karabakh defending their rights. @EdgarHarutyunyan

It is Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Secretary General of NATO and Prime Minister of Denmark, who has returned from the Caucasus, who declares: “The risk of an open war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the near future is real and underestimated” and adds: “The European Union must make it clear to the Aliyev regime (editor’s note: Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan) that these violations will not go unpunished. For if there were to be a war, it would be President Ilham Aliyev who would take the initiative, he who now renames Armenia as Western Azerbaijan!

Indeed, not a day goes by without an armed incident and Nagorno-Karabakh or Artsakh has been cut off from Armenia by the Azeris in the Latchine corridor that links them since December 12, despite the successive international condemnations, including the recent and unappealable one by the International Court of Justice, which is the UN’s judicial body.

The reason for this is the blockade imposed on the 120,000 Armenians of the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. The blockade used as a weapon of war is a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian Law, which according to our experience, often leads to the worst. How long can the international community put up with it without trying to put an end to it peacefully as soon as possible?

Flags of Artsakh, flying in protest against the blockade of the Latchin corridor. @EdgarHarutyunyan

Do you know that this situation has become explosive between Azerbaijan and Iran which organizes large military maneuvers on the borders of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Do you know that the tensions are increasing between Russia, Armenia and the European Union mission present in this country to secure its borders. And although this is another cause for concern, do you see the strong tensions that agitate Georgia with the same neighboring countries.

Is it not urgent to extinguish the fuse lit by the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh before the fire spreads to the whole region and is amplified and extended by the game of alliances? It was Bernard Kouchner who declared during the Conference of intellectuals in support of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh (French intellectuals in support of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh in the Senate) “There is only a political solution”. It is up to the politicians and in France to the President of the Republic to make this solution possible

The lifting of the blockade with international guarantees would be the best answer to this potential risk of conflict. In the meantime, the idea of a humanitarian convoy for the population of Nagorno-Karabakh is gaining ground, as is the more recent idea of a large international peaceful march to reopen the corridor. I am ready to take part in it because I have always refused the blockade of populations used as a weapon of war, whether by supplying Sarajevo and the enclaves in Bosnia, in Kabul and by crossing borders clandestinely or without authorization in Afghanistan, in Rwanda, in Romania during the revolution and in many other countries such as in North-East Syria more recently.

We are our mountains say the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. Bernard Kouchner with Patrice Franceschi and Alain Boinet in front of the monument that symbolizes their existence.

We were in Nagorno-Karabagh in February 2021 with Bernard Kouchner and Patrice Franceschi. On site, we met the disabled from the war and their painful rehabilitation exercise, the minefields, the destroyed buildings in Stepanakert, the refugee populations, the young nurses in training, the uncertainty of the future that was eating away at the morale of the population. We also attended at the Charles Aznavour Center and at the Paul Eluard Center beautiful artistic activities with many participants, choir, orchestra, dance. And we went to the national monument of Nagorno-Karabakh which is called “We are our mountains” and, obviously, these mountains do not want to be exiled.

History still resonates today for the small martyred nations. Let us remember that April 24 is the day of commemoration of the Armenian genocide.

Alain Boinet.

 

 

 

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