Lt. Governor Kounalakis Calls for Lifting the Lachin Corridor Blockade
California Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis yesterday joined with others in calling on Azerbaijan to end its blockade of the Lachin Corridor, which links Armenia to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, she underlined that the blockade has severe humanitarian implications and sets back the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process. While recognizing the efforts already made by the Biden Administration, she urged continued and additional pressure on the government of Azerbaijan to end this crisis. The text of her letter follows below:
January 30, 2023
The Honorable Antony J. Blinken
Secretary of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I have been watching with increasing concern the very troubling developments at the Lachin Corridor, which is the only link between the inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh and the rest of the world. This is also an issue I have been hearing about with increasing frequency from my constituents in California.
I am aware that you have been focused on this issue, that you spoke with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev earlier this month, and that the Department has issued statements urging the parties to resolve this situation. Indeed, I agree completely with the statement issued from the podium by Spokesperson Ned Price on December 13, 2022, reiterated again on January 25, 2023, that the closure of the corridor has severe humanitarian implications, that it sets back the peace process in the region, and that the government of Azerbaijan should immediately take steps to restore free movement through the corridor. But I have seen no meaningful progress as this crisis continues well into its second month. Rather, the Azerbaijani press reports the Aliyev government has dismissed and rejected what it calls your “allegations” concerning the situation. The world knows better. Only yesterday, Pope Francis renewed his appeal for a negotiated and peaceful resolution to what he called a grave humanitarian situation.
Accordingly, I would like to associate myself with the letter sent to you on January 12, 2023, by Senator Robert Menendez and Senator Jack Reed. I agree with them that “the United States cannot stand aside while the Aliyev regime callously threatens the lives of Nagorno-Karabakh’s citizens, and must hold Azerbaijan to account for blocking a civilian population’s access to food and basic necessities.” I would urgently ask that you use all the tools at your disposal to keep the pressure on President Aliyev until the Lachin Corridor is reopened.
Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis (ret.)