PARIS — The United States and France are working together to try to end Azerbaijan’s continuing blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh’s land link with Armenia and the outside world, the French Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
The ministry said that French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the issue in a phone call on Thursday. It said they “emphasized the need for free movement along the Lachin corridor to be immediately restored.”
“The serious humanitarian consequences of the current deadlock on the people of Nagorno-Karabakh are unacceptable, and France and the United States are combining their efforts to end the situation, through their contacts between [Armenian] Prime Minister Pashinyan and [Azerbaijani] President Aliyev,” added a statement released by the ministry.
French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Pashinyan by phone on Monday. According to the presidential Elysee Palace, Macron said the reopening of the corridor, blocked by Azerbaijani government-backed protesters on December 12, remains a “priority” for him. He also voiced “France’s full solidarity with the Armenian populations facing growing humanitarian needs.”
The U.S. and France have repeatedly called for an end to the road blockade compounded by disruptions in Armenia’s electricity and natural gas supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh carried out through Azerbaijani-controlled territory. Azerbaijan has ignored these appeals, continuing to defend the protesters demanding that Baku be allowed to inspect “illegal” copper mines in Karabakh.
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov reaffirmed Baku’s position during a phone conversation with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried on Friday. Bayramov reportedly told her that the protesters’ demands are “legitimate” and must be fulfilled.
Donfried also spoke with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan. According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Mirzoyan reiterated that the “illegal” blockade must be lifted “without any preconditions.”
The French co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Brice Roquefeuil, telephoned Mirzoyan earlier on Friday.