Lachin Corridor Must Be Reopened for Humanitarian Aid, Security Council Hears, as Speakers Urge Armenia, Azerbaijan to Normalize Relations
Movement through the Lachin Corridor — connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia and the rest of the world — must be reopened immediately, speakers told the Security Council today, as they called on both Armenia and Azerbaijan to refrain from the politicization of humanitarian aid to meet the civilian population’s needs and normalize relations for a future peace treaty.
Edem Wosornu, Director of Operations and Advocacy, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been unable to transport humanitarian assistance through the Lachin Corridor or other routes to the civilian population in the area where Russian peacekeepers were deployed for several weeks. Citing international humanitarian law that States parties must allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of such aid for all civilians in need, she stressed it was critical that ICRC’s delivery of humanitarian relief be allowed to resume through any available routes.
She also underlined that it is incumbent on the parties not to impede or politicize any principled humanitarian effort, noting that the Office will continue to engage with the parties on humanitarian access to meet the essential needs of civilians. The United Nations country teams in both Armenia and Azerbaijan are also maintaining open channels with the authorities in those countries to ensure a response to humanitarian needs, she reported.
In the ensuing debate, many speakers encouraged both parties to respect the commitments made under the 2020 trilateral agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation, normalize relations to lay the foundation for a future peace treaty and ensure that humanitarian aid and food be allowed to reach the population of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The representative of the United States, Council President for August, spoke in her national capacity to voice concern over the closure of the Lachin Corridor, adding that access to food, medicine and baby formula should never be held hostage. Accordingly, she called on Azerbaijan to restore free movement through the Corridor so commercial and humanitarian vehicles can reach the population of Nagorno-Karabakh.
In the same vein, Albania’s delegate called on both parties to delimitate, demine and demilitarize the border to provide the necessary sense of security to avoid accidents and incidents which — given the volatility of the situation — could quicky lead to heightened tensions and clashes.
Also calling for an immediate de-escalation of the situation, the representative of Malta highlighted the vulnerable situation of women and girls who are internally displaced or are in a refugee-like situation. They have limited access to education, employment, health care and housing and are inadequately protected from gender-based violence, she reported.
The representative of Ghana said the outcomes of mediation efforts — including the demarcation and delimitation of borders — will help reduce tensions, facilitate the normalization of relations and set the stage for negotiating a future Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty. “An open military confrontation and war serves no one’s interest,” he asserted, urging all parties to de-escalate the situation.
However, the representative of the Russian Federation, while highlighting the key elements of the trilateral agreements — including the delimiting and demarcating the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, with Moscow’s assistance — stressed that Armenian-Azerbaijani reconciliation is unthinkable without reliable security guarantees and the observance of the rights of the inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh. He pointed to his Government’s compromise-based proposal to de-escalate tensions, entailing the parallel opening of corridors through Aghdam and Lachin.
Nevertheless, said Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, Baku’s readiness to supply goods via the city of Aghdam should not be seen as an alternative to reopening the Corridor. Warning against politization of humanitarian access, he underscored that movement through the Lachin Corridor must be reopened immediately.
In that regard, Türkiye’s delegate, criticizing Armenia’s attempts to express politically motivated allegations regarding the Lachin Corridor, said Azerbaijan has been voicing concerns over the abuse of the Corridor for supplying armed groups and illegal mine exploitation in Karabakh for a long time. Feeling obliged to take measures on its own territory, Azerbaijan has observed humanitarian considerations during their implementation, he said, adding that medical evacuations through the road are possible.
Ararat Mirzoyan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, said that according to the trilateral statement, the Lachin Corridor shall remain under the control of the Russian Federation peacemaking forces. Yet in 2022, Azerbaijan blocked the Corridor under a fake pretext of environmental concerns. As a result, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh no longer receive 400 tons of essential goods daily. Condemning the use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare and warning against the “ethnic cleansing of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh”, he called for the immediate restoration of freedom of movement of persons, vehicles and cargo through the Corridor.
Rejecting such “groundless” allegations, Azerbaijan’s representative said Armenia is presenting as a humanitarian matter a provocative political campaign to undermine his country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Moreover, the recent decision by the International Court of Justice to reject Armenia’s request for an interim measure of the checkpoint’s removal dismissed that country’s allegations that the Lachin checkpoint is illegal. Immediately after the end of the war in 2020, Azerbaijan offered logistics and infrastructure to ICRC for the delivery of goods to the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. However, the Armenian side rejected and prevented the ICRC from delivering humanitarian assistance, he recalled.
“We encourage Armenia and Azerbaijan to continue to meet each other halfway,” said China’s delegate, highlighting recent mediation efforts which have demonstrated the political will of both countries to resolve issues peacefully through diplomatic means. Observing that “Armenia and Azerbaijan are neighbours”, he pointed out that it is in the fundamental interest of both countries to achieve common security and development through cooperation.
LETTER DATED 13 SEPTEMBER 2022 FROM PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF ARMENIA TO PRESIDENT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL (S/2022/688)
EDEM WOSORNU, Director of Operations and Advocacy, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the Office cannot independently verify information regarding the movement of people or goods through routes that include the Lachin Corridor or on the well-being of civilians in the areas where the Russian Federation’s peacekeepers have been deployed. However, she highlighted ongoing reports on shortages of food and medicines as well as disruption to energy supplies that are required to maintain critical infrastructure and services such as health and water facilities. She further pointed to reports that some essential health-care interventions may have had to be suspended, including surgeries. The Office is in regular contact with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which remains the only international humanitarian body that has access to the area.
Drawing attention to the 25 July ICRC statement, she said they have been unable to transport humanitarian assistance through the Lachin Corridor to the civilian population in the area, or through any other route, including Aghdam, for several weeks. Although medical evacuations continue, ICRC has also not been able to bring medical items into the area since 7 July, and their food deliveries stopped on 14 June. Against this backdrop, she emphasized that international humanitarian law is very clear: parties must allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for all civilians in need. They must ensure that humanitarian relief personnel have the freedom of movement required for their functions. It is critical that the ICRC’s delivery of humanitarian relief be allowed to resume through any available routes, she stressed.
The ICRC is doing everything it can, but as a single organization it can only cover the most urgent needs, she continued, adding that other impartial humanitarian relief must also be allowed to reach civilians in need. Additionally, it is incumbent on the parties not to impede or politicize any principled humanitarian effort, she emphasized, noting that the Office will continue to engage with the parties on humanitarian access to meet the essential needs of civilians in the area. The United Nations country teams in both Armenia and Azerbaijan are also maintaining open channels with the authorities in those countries and stand fully ready to do everything they can to ensure a response to humanitarian needs, she underlined.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) expressed concern over the humanitarian situation facing the civilian population living in Nagorno-Karabakh. “These civilians are facing shortages of food, medicine and medical equipment [and] essential hygiene items as well as basic services,” he said. Humanitarian aid must be provided urgently without politicization. The parties must adhere strictly to their obligations under international humanitarian law, “especially the part about not hindering humanitarian access and freedom of movement of persons and goods”, he continued. It is also crucial that sick persons be able to receive treatment without disruption. The crisis between Azerbaijan and Armenia must be resolved through dialogue and in compliance with international law, he emphasized, calling on the parties to continue negotiations to find agreement on key issues, including the signing of a peace treaty. The parties must take a “responsible approach” and refrain from using military threats, incendiary rhetoric or hate speech, he added.
SÉRGIO FRANÇA DANESE (Brazil) reaffirmed his country’s commitment to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan, within their internationally recognized borders. He also urged the parties to explore mechanisms to ensure unimpeded humanitarian access to Karabakh, including the feasibility of the Aghdam-Khankendi route. It is essential to find an urgent solution to the crisis, which may worsen in the coming months as winter approaches. Brazil encourages the preservation of dialogue channels between the parties and underscores its support for the ceasefire agreement. Noting that the trilateral statement of 9 November 2020 offers a road map for peacebuilding, he called on the parties to adhere to the commitments made at that time and remain engaged in pursuing a definitive solution to the conflict.
NATHALIE BROADHURST (France) observed that Azerbaijan’s blocking of the Lachin Corridor continues to isolate the population of Nagorno-Karabakh from the rest of the world with no legitimate justification. She further condemned the blocking of the humanitarian aid convoy dispatched in July by Armenian authorities to try to remedy the situation. Citing an order by the International Court of Justice of February 22 and its provisional measures, which are binding, she noted that it requires Azerbaijan to “take all measures at its disposal to ensure the unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and goods along the Lachin Corridor in both directions”. Welcoming the actions of the ICRC on the ground, she called for free and unimpeded access of humanitarian organizations and United Nations agencies to the populations concerned — as well as a resumption of negotiations towards a settlement of all outstanding issues, including the rights and guarantees of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) said that safeguarding local livelihoods must be the utmost priority, recalling the Secretary-General’s concern over reports of continued challenges to freedom of movement along the Lachin Corridor and the deteriorating humanitarian situation. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is currently facing difficulties in bringing humanitarian assistance to the civilian population through the Corridor or any other route. All parties should grant access immediately, he stressed, recalling that the International Court of Justice indicated provisional measures on 22 February 2023 related to ensuring the unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Corridor in both directions. The rule of law must be upheld, and final settlement of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia is crucial for peace and stability in the Caucasus. The Security Council should therefore be committed to this issue, he said.
FELIX OSEI BOATENG (Ghana) encouraged the parties to fully embrace ongoing mediation efforts and talks under the auspices of the Council of the European Union. The outcomes of these discussions, including the demarcation and delimitation of borders, will help reduce tensions, facilitate the normalization of relations and set the stage for negotiating a future Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty. “We hold that an open military confrontation and war serves no one’s interest,” he stressed. Rather, it exacerbates the suffering of civilians, particularly women, children and the elderly. The Lachin Corridor and other acceptable viable routes serve as a critical link to ensuring the right of access to health, essential services and goods, as well as to freedom of movement. Actions that could potentially induce a humanitarian catastrophe and needlessly put civilians at risk “undercut our shared values”, he emphasized, urging all parties to de-escalate the situation and guarantee the freedoms of all ethnic populations.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania), welcoming the efforts by Armenia and Azerbaijan towards normalization following the negotiation on a peace treaty, noted that the leaders of both countries reiterated their firm commitment to the territorial integrity of their countries. He commended their commitment to a long-term negotiation plan for a comprehensive peace agreement, as well as their plans for the construction of the railway connection and the readiness of the European Union to contribute financially. However, “the road is still uphill and bumpy,” he said, highlighting tensions near the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. Further, the positions of both countries on the recent development in the Lachin road differ sharply. In addition, he voiced concern over “a profound lack of trust” between the parties on the best ways to deal with the situation of the Azerbaijani citizens of Armenian descent living in the country. Accordingly, he called on both parties to delimitate, demine and demilitarize the border to provide the necessary sense of security to avoid accidents and incidents which — given the volatility of the situation — could quicky lead to heightened tensions and clashes.
GENG SHUANG (China), observing that “Armenia and Azerbaijan are neighbours”, noted that it is in the fundamental interest of both countries to achieve common security and development through cooperation. In recent years, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Russian Federation have successively issued four joint statements, arranging for the cessation of hostilities and addressing economic, transport, cooperation and border issues, among others. Recently, Armenia and Azerbaijan have carried out a series of engagements and dialogue through mediation by relevant parties. This has demonstrated the political will of — and concrete actions by — both countries to resolve issues peacefully through diplomatic means. “We encourage Armenia and Azerbaijan to continue to meet each other halfway,” he added, also urging them to properly settle their disputes in accordance with universally recognized international law and the norms governing international relations.
FRANCESCA MARIA GATT (Malta) appealed to the Azerbaijani authorities to restore free access to the Nagorno-Karabakh region and refrain from further violations of the trilateral statement of 9 November 2020, international humanitarian law and orders by the International Court of Justice. Calling for an immediate de-escalation of the situation, she stressed that women and girls who are internally displaced or are in a refugee-like situation often face intersecting forms of discrimination, have limited access to education, employment, health care and housing, and are inadequately protected from gender-based violence. Humanitarian access must not be politicized under any circumstance, she underscored, commending the work carried out by the ICRC and local women’s organizations.
ADRIAN DOMINIK HAURI (Switzerland) voiced concern over the deterioration of the humanitarian situation following restrictions on access through the Lachin Corridor. Such restrictions profoundly impact the most vulnerable, especially children, the sick, the elderly, people with disabilities and pregnant women — an untenable situation that must be resolved without delay. Urging the parties to respect the commitments they have made — notably in the trilateral statement of November 2020 — he echoed calls for the parties to find a “humanitarian consensus” to ensure that impartial humanitarian aid reaches those who depend on it. Further, the ICRC should be permitted to resume its operations in the region without hindrance. While recognizing the diplomatic efforts undertaken between Armenia and Azerbaijan, he emphasized that the parties must further take “de-escalation measures and intensify their efforts to normalize relations and reach a peace treaty”.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) noted with concern reports on issues relating to the freedom of movement along the Lachin Corridor, which risk destabilizing the region. The implications of this situation for the supply of basic necessities are extremely worrying, he cautioned, calling on the parties to urgently facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to the civilian population. Further, he urged the parties to refrain from any action that could exacerbate tensions or deteriorate the humanitarian and security situations. He expressed hope that negotiations will continue in search of a sustainable solution to the conflict, which will allow tensions to de-escalate and ensure free and safe movement through the Lachin Corridor. To this end, he reiterated his support for the revitalization of peace efforts within the framework of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
AMEIRAH OBAID MOHAMED OBAID ALHEFEITI (United Arab Emirates) stressed the need to provide basic goods — such as food, medicine, and fuel — and ensure that these items reach those in need. She expressed concern over the tensions between the two sides and called on all parties to de-escalate and exercise restraint. “It is imperative to avoid unilateral measures or rhetoric that could result in dire humanitarian consequences or impede the achievement of a lasting peace,” she emphasized. She called for the two parties to continue resolving their differences peacefully through dialogue and diplomatic means, in line with international law, international norms and the United Nations Charter. Armenia and Azerbaijan must continue to engage constructively and in good faith within the ongoing mediation efforts. “Now is the time for peace,” she stressed, pledging to support all efforts that promote stability, dialogue and peaceful coexistence between the two countries.
PEDRO COMISSÁRIO AFONSO (Mozambique) urged all parties to ensure that freedom of movement along the Corridor is guaranteed in order to allow the vulnerable population unimpeded access to humanitarian aid. He also called on the parties to remain committed to the agreements reached so far, including the trilateral declaration of 9 November 2020 made by Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation. Underlining that he highly values the continuation of the good offices of the Secretary-General, he also strongly encouraged the peace mediation efforts by the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union for normalizing relations between Yerevan and Baku.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) said that the International Court of Justice order of February must be respected to ensure unimpeded movement along the Lachin Corridor in both directions. He strongly urged parties to allow the ICRC access along all available routes so that it is able to undertake its vital work. All parties must refrain from the politicization of humanitarian aid to meet the civilian population’s needs. He also warmly welcomed the ongoing, internationally-mediated negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan towards a historic peace agreement, hosted most recently by European Council President Charles Michel last month, as well as efforts by the United States in this regard. “It is only diplomacy, in the spirit of the UN Charter, that will bring both sides closer to peace,” he emphasized.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said that his country is doing everything possible, through both diplomatic channels and peacekeepers on the ground, to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. The key elements of the trilateral agreements are delimiting and, subsequently, demarcating the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, with Moscow’s expert assistance; restoring transport communications within the framework of the trilateral working group; and paving the way for an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace dialogue. Citing progress, he stressed that Armenian-Azerbaijani reconciliation is unthinkable without reliable, clear security guarantees and the observance of the rights of the inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh based on recognized international principles in the context of the laws of Azerbaijan.
He recalled that, during talks between the foreign ministers of the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan and Armenia on July 25 in Moscow, his Government proposed realistic, compromise-based solutions to de-escalate tensions, entailing the parallel opening of corridors through Aghdam and Lachin. He urged all responsible players interested in normalizing the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh — and in Armenian-Azerbaijani reconciliation — to set aside political considerations. He further called for the responsible use of the Council platform in this respect, stressing that problems should be resolved between Baku and Yerevan as no externally imposed schemes or solutions will replace that dialogue.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States), Council President for August, spoke in her national capacity to voice concern over the closure of the Lachin Corridor, which has exacerbated the humanitarian situation. Access to food, medicine and baby formula should never be held hostage, she asserted, urging the Government of Azerbaijan to restore free movement through the Corridor so commercial, humanitarian and private vehicles can reach the population of Nagorno-Karabakh. Neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian access and assistance, including medical transfers, must not be hindered, she underscored, calling for the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Further, peace in the region must include protection of the rights of individuals in Nagorno-Karabakh. Urging restraint and the immediate cessation of any activities that undermine the peace process, she called on both sides to fully meet their obligations under international humanitarian law. Negotiations are vital to a lasting peace, she said, encouraging both parties to engage in direct talks.
ARARAT MIRZOYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, said that the humanitarian situation under discussion today stems from the eight-month-long blockade of the Lachin Corridor, which is “the road of life” connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia and the rest of the world. Recalling the trilateral statement signed by Armenia, the Russian Federation and Azerbaijan, he said that, according to paragraph 6, the five-kilometre-wide Corridor shall remain under the control of the Russian Federation peacemaking forces. On 12 December 2022, Azerbaijan blocked the Corridor under a fake pretext of environmental concerns. Prior to that blockade, around 90 per cent of all consumed food was imported from Armenia. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh no longer receive 400 tons of essential goods daily. On 22 February, the International Court of Justice indicated a provisional measure, according to which Azerbaijan shall “take all measures to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions”. On July 26, Armenia sent a humanitarian convoy, which up to now remains at the entrance of the Corridor as Azerbaijan denies access.
He urged the Council to condemn the use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, prohibited by international humanitarian law, and called for the immediate restoration of freedom and security of movement of persons, vehicles and cargo, in line with the previously reached agreements, through the Lachin Corridor. The Council should ensure full cooperation of the parties in good faith with ICRC and safe and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance. The 15-nation organ should also dispatch an independent interagency needs assessment mission to Nagorno-Karabakh. “These humanitarian issues clearly need to be resolved with the international community’s strong intervention, before the negative consequences result in ethnic cleansing of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said. He also cited International Criminal Court former Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, who reflected in his report: “The blockade of the Lachin Corridor by the Azerbaijani security forces impeding access to any food, medical supplies and other essentials should be considered a genocide under article II, (c) of the Genocide Convention.” The prevention of such a catastrophe is a core duty of the United Nations and this Council, which has the capacity to act as a body for genocide prevention, not for genocide commemoration, he said.
YASHAR T. ALIYEV (Azerbaijan), categorically rejecting the “groundless” allegations propagated by Armenia, stated: “What Armenia tries to present as a humanitarian matter is indeed a provocative and irresponsible political campaign to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of my country.” Armenia, for almost 30 years, has blatantly disregarded a series of Council statements that demanded the full, immediate, and unconditional withdrawal of its occupying forces from Azerbaijan. Armenia’s appeal to the Council is part of a campaign to manipulate and mislead. The breach of the agreement on the delivery of humanitarian goods by ICRC on 5 August is not Armenia’s only obstruction, he added. Immediately after the end of the war in 2020, Azerbaijan offered logistics and infrastructure to ICRC for the delivery of goods to the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. In 2021, the Armenian side rejected and prevented the ICRC from delivering humanitarian assistance. Moreover, Armenia resorted to the “unprecedented action” of using ICRC to smuggle certain technologies, such as microchips, to the Karabakh region. The ICRC has to acknowledge this, as it is a serious blow to its humanitarian mandate, he stated.
The ethnic Armenians living in the Karabakh region are considered residents of Azerbaijan, he continued, adding that his Government is committed to guaranteeing and securing them access to necessary goods and services. The recent decision by the International Court of Justice to reject Armenia’s request for an interim measure of the removal of the checkpoint dismissed that country’s allegations that the Lachin checkpoint is illegal. Equally ungrounded are Armenia’s allegations of genocide. “It is of vital importance that the historic opportunity for durable peace in the region is not missed,” he warned. Verbal statements by the leadership of Armenia on the recognition of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, including the Karabakh region, has created a ground for cautious optimism. Now, Armenia must transform this statement into real deeds and refrain from questioning the sovereignty of Azerbaijan under the pretext of humanitarian needs, he stressed. More so, Azerbaijan pursues a policy of integration of ethnic Armenian residents of the Karabakh region as equal citizens, guaranteeing them the rights and freedoms envisaged in Azerbaijan’s constitution and international human rights mechanisms, he emphasized.
SEDAT ÖNAL (Türkiye) expressed concern about Armenia’s attempts to exploit international platforms, including the Security Council, to express politically motivated allegations regarding the Lachin Corridor. Azerbaijan has been expressing concerns on the abuse of the Corridor for supplying armed groups and illegal mine exploitation in Karabakh for a long time. However, these concerns and sensitivities were not taken into account, and Azerbaijan felt obliged to take measures on its own territory. Azerbaijan has observed humanitarian considerations while these measures were implemented, he said, adding that medical evacuations through the road are possible and the country has already allocated the Aghdam-Khankendi route for supplying needs of the Armenian residents in Karabakh. Moreover, Azerbaijan has demonstrated its willingness to establish dialogue with the representatives of the local Armenian residents to address the issue. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan’s sincere efforts have not been reciprocated, he said, reiterating his Government’s commitment to a full normalization process with Armenia.
SILVIO GONZATO, Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, deplored that ICRC activities in the region have been heavily impacted and called for their full resumption. Humanitarian access must not be politicized, and movement through the Lachin Corridor must be reopened immediately. Based on the November 2020 trilateral statement and the February 2023 International Court of Justice order, Azerbaijan bears the responsibility to guarantee safety and freedom of movement along the Corridor. While Baku has expressed its readiness to supply goods via the city of Aghdam, this should not be seen as an alternative to reopening the Corridor, he said, reiterating the bloc’s call for direct dialogue between Baku and Karabakh Armenians.
He went on to report that the European Union’s monitoring mission in Armenia is conducting patrols along the Armenian side of the international border to contribute to conflict resolution and build confidence between the two countries, calling on all sides to avoid further incidents. He also noted that European Council President Charles Michel has been heavily engaged in supporting the Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization process since the end of 2021. At the last trilateral meeting on 15 July 2023, Baku and Yerevan reiterated their strong commitment to the peace process, notably reconfirming their full respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. They also expressed unequivocal commitment to the 1991 Almaty Declaration as a political framework for delimitation. A return to dialogue remains as urgent as ever, he stressed, noting that, unfortunately, the current deteriorating humanitarian situation for Karabakh Armenians is harming the peace process.