BAKU — Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has reportedly refused to meet Belgium’s visiting Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib after she urged Azerbaijan to lift its blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh and recognize Armenia’s borders.
Lahbib proceeded to Baku on Thursday two days after holding talks with Armenian leaders in Yerevan. She was expected to meet Aliyev during the trip.
The Azerbaijani government-linked news agency APA cited an unnamed government source as saying that the meeting will not take place because Lahbib made in Yerevan “pro-Armenian statements that are far from reality.”
Speaking at a joint news conference with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, Lahbib called on Baku to reciprocate Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s recent recognition of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. She also expressed serious concern over the worsening humanitarian situation in Karabakh, warning of a risk of famine in the Armenian-populated region.
“It is incumbent on Azerbaijan to ensure the security of Karabakh’s population and free traffic through the Lachin corridor,” said the top Belgian diplomat.
The Azerbaijani leadership has repeatedly dismissed similar appeals from the European Union, the United States and Russia. It denies blocking Karabakh’s sole land link with Armenia and says the international community should instead facilitate the region’s “reintegration” into Azerbaijan.