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Opposition Party Suspects Secret Border Deal With Azerbaijan


Armenia -- Bright Armenia Party leaders Edmon Marukian (L) and Taron Simonian at a news conference in Yerevan, February 12, 2021.

A major opposition party demanded on Friday explanations from the Armenian government over allegations that a controversial delimitation of Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan was the result of its secret agreement with Baku reached following the autumn war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The delimitation followed Armenian troop withdrawals from border areas along Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province that began after a Russian-brokered ceasefire stopped the war on November 10.

Syunik borders the Zangelan and Kubatli districts southwest of Karabakh which were mostly recaptured by Azerbaijan during the six-week hostilities. Armenian army units and local militias completed in December their withdrawal from parts of the districts close to Syunik’s capital Kapan and many other communities.

Some of those lands are located along the Soviet-era Armenian-Azerbaijani border which has never been demarcated due to the Karabakh conflict. Local government officials in Syunik and opposition figures in Yerevan have accused Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian of hastily and illegally ceding them to Baku. Pashinian has insisted that “not a single inch” of Armenia’s internationally recognized territory has been lost as a result of the troop withdrawal.

Earlier this week, opposition sources posted on Facebook a copy of what they described as a secret Armenian-Azerbaijani agreement reached after the ceasefire. The purported document specifies, among other things, a section of Syunik’s main highway placed under Azerbaijani control.

Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian acknowledged on Wednesday that Yerevan and Baku reached an understanding on the highway passing through “disputed territory.” But he did not confirm or deny the veracity of the published document.

“If you look at that document you will see provisions that have been effectively implemented,” said Edmon Marukian, the leader of the opposition Bright Armenia Party (LHK). “We therefore have reason to suspect that it is either the text of a verbal agreement or a signed document.”

Another senior LHK member, Taron Simonian, said that the border agreement, if it was indeed signed, is null and void because it was not certified by Armenia’s Constitutional Court and ratified by the Armenian parliament.

Sisak Gabrielian, a lawmaker representing the ruling My Step bloc dismissed the document as a fraud.

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