Greece calls on Azerbaijan to reopen Lachin corridor "without preconditions"

Lachin corridor blocked by Azerbaijan

The Greek Foreign Ministry has called on Azerbaijan to reopen the Lachin corridor "without preconditions" so that the local population can be "spared from hardships and distress."

"Greece calls on Azerbaijani authorities to ensure freedom and security of movement and transport, in both directions along the Lachin corridor without any preconditions in compliance with the Tripartite Statement of 09.11.20. Local population should be spared from hardships and distress," the ministry said in a social media post.

At the same time, Russia expressed concern on Thursday over the blocking of the Lachin Corridor which links Armenia to the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The route is the only land connection across Azerbaijani territory between Armenia and the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of blocking it, which Baku denies.

At a briefing in Moscow on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia hopes the corridor will be unblocked soon.

Hostilities between the two countries persist despite a September ceasefire that came after Azerbaijan launched another unprovoked attack on Armenia, escalating a decades-long dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, the population of which is predominantly indigenously Armenian.

"Closure of the Lachin Corridor has severe humanitarian implications and sets back the peace process," U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. "We call on the government of Azerbaijan to restore free movement through the corridor."

The European Union also issued a statement, calling on "the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure freedom and security of movement along the corridor."

A trilateral agreement signed by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia in 2020 to end a large-scale war stated that the Lachin Corridor would remain under the control of Russian peacekeepers and that Azerbaijan had to guarantee the safe movement of citizens, vehicles and cargo in both directions.

Armenia's Foreign Ministry said, "The propagandistic preparations for closing the Lachin Corridor started months ago and it is obvious that this provocation was organised by the state bodies of Azerbaijan, aiming to cut off Nagorno-Karabakh from the Republic of Armenia and thus from the outside world."

Schools in Nagorno-Karabakh are being shut down, Artsakh State Minister Ruben Vardanyan announced Wednesday, adding that residents should conserve electricity.

Some families are now cut off from one another, including Artak Beglaryan, Advisor to State Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh, who is stranded in Yerevan after being unable to reenter Karabakh.

Beglaryan, who called for international sanctions, started a sit-in protest in front of the United Nations office in Armenia’s capital.

READ MORE: Cyprus calls on Baku to "immediately" restore traffic and energy supply to Nagorno-Karabakh.