WCC, Conference of European Churches denounce blockade of Artsakh

The World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches, in a joint letter sent 19 December to the European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, denounced the blockade by Azerbaijan of the ethnic Armenian region of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh, “as a violation of the tripartite agreement that ended the six-week war of 2020, of international humanitarian and human rights law, and of the most fundamental moral principles.”

By its actions in obstructing the humanitarian Lachin corridor, and by temporarily cutting gas supplies to the region just at the onset of winter, Azerbaijan is deliberately creating a humanitarian emergency for the 120,000 ethnic Armenian residents, notes the letter, signed by CEC General Secretary Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen and the WCC Acting General Secretary Rev. Dr Ioan Sauca.

“This follows a clear pattern of behaviour by Azerbaijan that contradicts any claims of goodwill and humanitarian responsibility on its part,” the letter reads. “Increasing Azerbaijani attacks on sovereign Armenian territory prompted the UN Security Council to call an emergency meeting on 15 September 2022.”

The letter also notes growing evidence of gross violations of human rights against Armenians by Azerbaijan’s military and security forces.

“Accountability for such crimes and violations has not been pursued,” the letter reads. “In these circumstances, Armenian fears of renewed genocide against them cannot be discounted, and the blockade of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh is a context in which those fears are greatly and understandably exacerbated.”

The letter urges the EU to pursue all possible diplomatic initiatives to ensure that Azerbaijan re-opens the Lachin corridor and provides appropriate guarantees that it will remain open. “Further, we appeal to you to do all in your power to secure extension of the mandate of the existing EU monitoring mission at the Armenia-Azerbaijan border to include the Lachin corridor, in order to provide independent civilian monitoring of the situation along the corridor,” the letter concludes.

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