Bayramov rejects additional guarantees for Karabakh Armenians, Lachin checkpoint opens for ICRC after EU concern

In an interview with Reuters news agency published on Friday (23 June), the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov ruled out giving the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh extra security guarantees. This has been a key bone of contention during the ongoing Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process.

"We do not accept such a precondition [for the next round of negotiations] for several reasons. The most fundamental is as follows. This is an internal, sovereign matter. Azerbaijan's constitution and several international conventions to which Azerbaijan is a party provide all the necessary conditions to guarantee the rights of this population," Bayramov said.

"Ethnic Armenians can use and be educated in their language and preserve their culture if they integrate into the Azerbaijani society and state structures like other ethnic and religious minorities," he added.

Yerevan meanwhile has been pushing for an "international mechanism" of dialogue between Stepanakert and Baku, and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Thursday (22 June) again called for its establishment. PM Pashinyan has also indicated on multiple occasions that he recognises Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, including Nagorno-Karabakh.

Lachin checkpoint re-opens after EU voices concern

Separately, the checkpoint established by Azerbaijan at the entrance to the Lachin corridor on 23 April re-opened on Sunday (25 June), according to Trend news agency and cited by Azerbaijani media.

Trend reports that ambulances of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) passed through the checkpoint and delivered 15 patients from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. Meanwhile, 16 people who had received treatment in Armenia would return to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan closed the Lachin checkpoint after violence reported at the checkpoint on 15 June, about which you can read more here.

The apparent re-opening of the checkpoint on Sunday (25 June), came after the EU released a statement on Friday saying that "the near total blockage of the Lachin corridor, in place since 15 June is very worrying. It directly threatens the livelihoods of the local population and raises serious fears of a potential humanitarian crisis."

"Following the series of recent high-level meetings, the EU continues to be engaged at the highest political level to help defuse these tensions and find mutually acceptable solutions," the statement concluded.

source: with agencies