Azerbaijan protests to UN fund over position on Lachin road

UNFPA. Photo: kukotaekaterina / shutterstock

This article originally appeared on JAMNews on 25 January 2023

Azerbaijan protests to UN fund

The head of the Azerbaijani office of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was invited today to the presidential administration of Azerbaijan, where official Baku brought to the representative’s attention the latest statement of the fund on the situation on the Lachin road. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan also made a statement calling the position of UNFPA unacceptable. According to political observer Haji Namazov, even if the UN tries to intervene in the situation it is unlikely to succeed.

What happened?

On January 24, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) supported the UN Secretary General’s call for de-escalation in and security of movement along the Lachin corridor in accordance with previous agreements.

“It is critical to ensure that the basic needs of affected populations, including women and girls, youth, people with disabilities, and the elderly are met,” UNFPA said in a statement.

“Freedom and security of movement along the corridor is vital to ensure continued access to essential sexual and reproductive health goods and services, and to ensure that women can give birth safely.”

UNFPA said it was ready to work with all parties, in accordance with humanitarian principles, to ensure that vulnerable demographics have access to essential services.

Summons to the presidential administration

The head of the Azerbaijani office of UNFPA was invited to the presidential administration of Azerbaijan, and concerns were brought to his attention in connection with a “biased, untrue” statement made by the organization on January 24 about the situation on the Lachin road.

The administration said that during the occupation of Azerbaijani territories various UN organizations, in response to legitimate questions raised by Baku, answered that they are humanitarian organizations and do not interfere in political issues.

“However, after Azerbaijan liberated its lands from occupation, these same organizations are now dealing with political issues, forgetting for some reason that they are humanitarian organizations. Such “political activity” of the UNFPA, whose mandate is in such matters as sexual and reproductive health, and fertility, is incomprehensible and unacceptable. According to further information, Armenia has stepped up efforts to send a UN mission to our territories where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily stationed, as well as to provide humanitarian assistance to various UN organizations,” the APA agency said after a meeting with the head of the UNFPA local office with representatives of the Azerbaijani authorities.

Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan

“The statement of the United Nations Population Fund regarding the situation around the Lachin road, made on January 24 and demonstrating a bias that does not reflect the real state of affairs, goes beyond the organization’s mandate, is surprising and regrettable.

This is a statement from the UN Foundation, which ignored the fact that as a result of Armenia’s military aggression against Azerbaijan, hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani families were evicted from their homes, lived in tent cities and train cars for 30 years, in conditions that threatened health, were deprived of their rights to education, health care and other rights is unacceptable,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the UNFPA statement.

“Peaceful protests on the Lachin road, the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan, demanding to stop the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of Azerbaijan, their transportation to Armenia and the abuse of the Lachin road, intended exclusively for humanitarian purposes, are the legitimate right of the Azerbaijani people.

Illegal activities in the territories of Azerbaijan, where Armenians live compactly, pose a threat to the national security of the country. In accordance with the tripartite statement dated November 10, 2020, the Republic of Azerbaijan guarantees the safety of the movement of citizens, vehicles and goods along the Lachin corridor in both directions. The security guarantee also includes the suppression of the facts of abuse of the Lachin road,” the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan added.

In the document, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry called on the UN Population Fund “to be impartial and refrain from actions and statements that could damage the organization’s reputation.”

Expert comment

According to political observer Haji Namazov, the invitation of a UNFPA representative to the presidential administration and the statement of the Foreign Ministry are warnings:

It is clear to everyone that without the consent of official Baku not a single international organization, including the UN, can carry out any activity on the sovereign territory of the country, which is Karabakh.

Statements by the UN Secretary General, various foundations and other profiles of international organizations, appeals are mostly made for reasons of diplomatic etiquette. But it’s hard to label them a call to action.”

Namazov also touched upon the situation in the part of Karabakh inhabited by Armenians:

“Today the situation in Khankendi (Stepanakert) and adjacent settlements where the Armenian population lives is not catastrophic. Every day dozens of vehicles of peacekeepers deliver everything necessary.

Before the statement of the President of Azerbaijan that Baku sees nothing wrong with the transportation of goods by peacekeepers for the civilian population of this part of Karabakh, this was not mentioned. But after that we see how the Russian peacekeeping contingent turns this position into an advertisement for itself. It is clear that all this is the result of behind-the-scenes agreements between the parties.

I think that Azerbaijan’s position on the statements of the UN Secretary General and UNFPA is quite understandable.”

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