Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh have agreed to build a third highway connecting them, a senior Armenian official announced on Wednesday.
Armen Grigorian, the secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, said the issue was high on the agenda of his “very productive” talks with Karabakh leaders held in Stepanakert last week.
“As a result of preliminary discussions, we are planning to build a 150-kilometer road in 2020,” Grigorian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “A decision has already been made.”
“I hope that before the end of this year we will finish these discussions and have a roadmap on how we are going to build that road,” he said.
Armenia and Karabakh are already connected by two highways passing through former Azerbaijani districts that were occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces during the 1991-1994 war.
One of them stretches for more than 80 kilometers from the Karabakh capital Stepanakert to the southeastern Armenian town of Goris. It was built in 1997 with the financial assistance of the Armenian Diaspora and the late U.S.-Armenian billionaire Kirk Kerkorian in particular.
The other, 115-kilometer -long road runs from the northern Karabakh town of Martakert to Vartenis in eastern Armenia. It was inaugurated in 2017 following a $36 million reconstruction mostly financed by the Armenian and Karabakh governments.
The Vartenis-Martakert road has not only shortened travel time between Yerevan and northern Karabakh but also brought more tourists to the area which is home to two medieval Armenian monasteries.
Grigorian said the third road will link Kapan, the administrative center of Armenia’s Syunik province bordering Iran, to Karabakh’s southern Hadrut district. He said it will boost Karabakh’s security and create new “economic opportunities” for the Armenian-populated territory.
The Armenian official did not specify the cost of the project. He said only that the authorities in Yerevan and Stepanakert will have no trouble raising funds for its implementation.