YEREVAN, September 15. /ARKA/. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was asked today by a lawmaker to comment on what was happening in the south-eastern region of Syunik and particularly on the road between Goris and Kapan.
According to reports from the area, Azerbaijani forces have set up a police checkpoint on a section of the road and stop and reportedly tax Iranian commercial trucks passing through it. This was confirmed by Iranian truck drivers and the Armenian National Security Service.
The checkpoint is on a section of a strategic road that connects Armenia with Iran. Armenian forces had pulled out of that road section after the end of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh last autumn. Now Azerbaijani forces control a 21-kilometer stretch of the highway. The other sections of the highway, which is Armenia’s sole transport link with Iran are patrolled by Russian soldiers and border guards.
Speaking at a government Q&A session in parliament today, Pashinyan said what was happening along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border has many layers and subtexts, and it is very important to understand them correctly.
Pashinyan recalled that in December 2020, in order to avoid a new military escalation, Armenian armed forces had been pulled back to the borders which were inherited from the former Soviet Union. The prime minister again referred to the law On administrative-territorial division of Armenia, passed by the parliament in 2010, which states that the administrative boundaries of the villages of Shurnukh and Vorotan in Syunik correspond to the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
“In December 2020, an agreement was reached that this road from Goris to Kapan should be freely used by Armenia for the movement of vehicles and goods. And I think since that agreement did not mention transportation of foreign goods, Azerbaijan is using this circumstance to retaliate to our statements that the trilateral statements of November 9, 2020 and January 11, 2021 say nothing about providing Azerbaijan with a corridor through Armenia (to its exclave Nakhichevan),” he said.
According to Pashinyan, Armenia, accepting that the communications of the region should be open one way or another, says that foreign cargo when crossing the territory of Armenia, including on the way from the western regions of Azerbaijan towards Nakhichevan, will have to go through the passport, customs and other checks, as established by the legal framework providing transport links between the CIS countries.
After the leaders of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan signed a statement on the cessation of all hostilities in Artsakh on November 9, 2020, more than 190 settlements of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent seven regions came under the control of Azerbaijan. As a result, the borders of the Syunik region in the south of Armenia and the Gegharkunik region in the east appeared in close proximity to the Soviet-time border of Azerbaijan.
This has brought about serious security problems for the residents of both provinces. Reports from local communities say Azerbaijani troops steal Armenian farmers’ livestock and threaten their life and health. Human rights defender Arman Tatoyan has repeatedly called for creating a security zone along the border. -0-