Ladies and gentlemen, honourable members of the committee, good morning.
As Mr. Mirakian said a moment ago, a five-kilometre corridor is the only connection between the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave and the outside world. In fact, the outside world is itself a half-landlocked area, as two of Armenia's four borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey are closed and have been for 30 years.
Since its military victory in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, Azerbaijan has unfortunately undergone extremely rapid radicalization. The objectives are twofold. On the one hand, Azerbaijan wants to finish with the remains of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Instead of toning it down, the autocrat Aliyev has on the contrary strongly turned up the volume of his militaristic rhetoric. Military blitzkrieg operations have already taken place several times in 2021 and 2022, whether on the contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh, where Russian interposition forces have been stationed since November 9, 2020, or on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
On the other hand, they are seeking a second corridor. I am using the terminology officially put forward by Mr. Aliyev. This corridor, which he wishes to see in the south of Armenia, would allow Azerbaijan to have a land connection between the Azerbaijani mainland and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan, which has the status of an autonomous Azerbaijani republic.
Mr. Aliyev wants to establish a corridor that is equivalent to the Lachin corridor. Yet the very real situations and threats to the population of Latsar have no equivalent for the Azerbaijani population of Nakhichevan. The creation of, or demand for, an extraterritorial corridor that Armenia would cede to Azerbaijan, depriving itself of sovereignty over this part of its territory, is unacceptable to Armenia. We can come back to this during the question rounds, if you wish.
The means used by Azerbaijan is the systematic use of ultraviolence by its armed forces. This ultraviolence is supported by a very large majority of Azerbaijani society, since this society has been fed Armenophobia since its earliest childhood, for several decades. The result is unfortunately to deny any human status and any potential victim status to Armenians, based on their ethnicity.
Militarily, Azerbaijan is infinitely stronger than Armenia. Azerbaijan has invested huge sums of money modernizing its military and weaponry, since the 2010s, thanks to its hydrocarbon export revenues. Its two main suppliers, known for the quality of their weapons, are Turkey and Israel; the former meets NATO standards and the latter uses state-of-the-art technology. Military co‑operation between the Turkish and Azerbaijani armed forces is also extremely strong and extensive.
In contrast, Armenia is becoming increasingly estranged from Russia, an ally, but only on paper. Indeed, Armenia very recently refused to allow military exercises by the Collective Security Treaty Organization, of which it is a nominal member, to take place on its territory. Russia last supplied arms to Armenia in 2019. The Armenian prime minister openly complained two months ago about Russia's monumental pressure on Armenia, both for the opening of the so‑called Zanguezur corridor and for a possible request for Armenia to join the Union of Russia and Belarus.
My final point is that Armenia suffers from international isolation that puts it at the mercy of its neighbour's appetites. By contrast, Azerbaijan has international partners, including trading partners, because of its oil and gas production, and accomplices. It was enough to hear the Belarusian autocrat Lukashenko tell the Armenian prime minister in late October 2022 that Aliyev is their man, and he should understand that.
In fact, two days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on February 22, 2022, Azerbaijan and Russia had signed a strategic agreement that enhanced diplomatic and military co‑operation between the two countries. According to Aliyev, for Azerbaijan, this brought the relationship with Russia to the level of an alliance.
Azerbaijan has become, since Russia's war against Ukraine, an important tool in circumventing international sanctions against Russia.
In this respect, Gazprom's press release of November 18, 2022 is quite explicit. Indeed, a new contract with SOCAR will increase Russian exports to Azerbaijan to 1 billion cubic metres of gas between November 2022 and March 2023.
With Russia rapidly weakening in Ukraine, destabilization of the South Caucasus is increasingly underway. There you have the most volatile ceasefire in the former ex‑Soviet region. This ceasefire has been, until very recently, completely off the radar of the international community and any monitoring system.
It seems, however, that in recent weeks there is an international awareness of the gravity of the situation in Artsakh, which has been under blockade for 44 days.
The UN Security Council attempted to get a declaration adopted. This attempt, although supported by 11 out of 15 states, was nevertheless rejected...