Baku: No deal struck for the lifting of blockade in Nagorno-Karabakh
Azerbaijan's foreign policy advisor to the president denied late Saturday that a deal has been reached for the reopening of the Lachin road, the only land route giving Armenia access to landlocked Nagorno-Karabakh with a predominantly Armenian population.
The road remains blocked by Azerbaijan since last December.
In response to news reports by international outlets including Reuters and BBC, Hiknet Hajiyev said:
"Tomorrow Russia initiated food cargo by Russian Red Cross will go along Agdam-Askaran road towards Khankandi [Azerbaijani name for Nagorno-Karabakh's capital Stepanakert] in coordination with Azerbaijani Red Crescent. It is a separate deal and shouldn't be confused with the suggestion on simultaneous opening of Agdam- Khankandi and Lachin- Khankandi roads for ICRC delivery."
Hajiyev also claimed that the simultaneous reopening of the Lachin road was indeed suggested by Baku, but the suggestion was rejected by Nagorno-Karabakh authorities. He said:
"Thus, on September 1st Azerbaijan expressed its consent as good willing jesture to ensure simultaneous opening of Agdam-Khankandi and Lachin-Khankandi roads. But illegal regime refused."
"However, in Lachin check point Azerbaijani' s customs and border control rejime must be observed."
Armenian news agency Armenpress earlier reported on Saturday that Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) authorities "announced that Russian aid will be delivered through the Aghdam road and that at the same time an agreement has been reached to restore humanitarian transit along Lachin Corridor."
Reuters said the move was "confirmed by Baku."
The blockade in Nagorno-Karabakh seriously impedes food, medical supplies and other essentials to the region of about 120,000 people.
A recent report by International Criminal Court's (ICC) former chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo warned on 8 August that "there is a reasonable basis to believe that a genocide is being committed" in the region.
"There are no crematories and there are no machete attacks. Starvation is the invisible genocide weapon. Without immediate dramatic change, this group of Armenians will be destroyed in a few weeks," the report said.