Letter:Isolation of Azerbaijan

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The Independent Online
From Mr Colin Pilkington

Sir: While it is only natural that the tragedy in Chechnya should take centre stage in the Caucasus region, it should not be overlooked that Azerbaijan is now facing what amounts to an embargo by Russia. Still piqued by the signing of the oil deal with a Western consortium, Russia has used the situation in Chechnya as an excuse to close its border with Azerbaijan. Since the fighting began, the main road and railway links with the outside world have been closed and telephone lines were recently severed.

Vital exports and imports for Azerbaijan's industries have virtually ceased. Food prices are soaring and the aid agencies are finding it increasingly difficult to supply the refugee population of 1.5 million. Most of these refugees were displaced as a result of the Russian-backed Armenian invasion in 1993.

Russia's continuing action against Azerbaijan is in breach of all norms of international law. Perhaps when Azerbaijan becomes a major oil exporter to the West, like Kuwait, the Western governments will do something to curb Russia's bully-boy tactics.

Yours faithfully,


Baku, Azerbaijan

6 February