“Our mood must be as follows: to go for solutions,” Pashinian said, opening a weekly session of his cabinet. “One of the issues which I think can be solved quite quickly is the opening of regional transport connections … I think that we should resume as soon as possible work in the trilateral format of the [Russian, Armenian and Azerbaijani] deputy prime ministers and be more active and proactive in creating new transport and economic opportunities in the region.”
Pashinian referred to a trilateral working group which was set up in January to work out practical modalities of reopening the Armenian-Azerbaijani border for commercial traffic.
The task force held several meetings in the following months. It has not met since Azerbaijani troops crossed several sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border on May 12-14.
Armenian officials said later in May that the Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani working group could resume its work only after Azerbaijani withdrawal from Armenia’s border areas. Baku has ruled out such a withdrawal, saying that its troops took up new positions on the Azerbaijani side of the frontier.
Tensions along several sections of the border rose further late last month, leading Pashinian to propose that Russia deploy border guards there. The Russian Foreign Ministry responded by calling for a “quick launch of joint work on delimiting and demarcating the border.”
“Our position on the delimitation and demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border remains unchanged,” Pashinian said on Thursday. “We believe that efforts in this direction should also be intensified.”
In recent days tension also rose along the Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact” in Karabakh. Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army accused Azerbaijani forces of opening fire at some of its frontline positions on Tuesday. Russian peacekeeping forces deployed in Karabakh right after last year’s Armenian-Azerbaijani war confirmed the shootout and pledged to investigate it.
The Karabakh Defense Army also claimed that the Azerbaijani side attacked its unspecified outposts with combat drones on Wednesday morning.
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry issued a statement later on Wednesday saying that Armenia has deployed more troops in Karabakh and set up new outposts there and pledging to take “all necessary measures” in response. It claimed that the Russian-brokered truce agreement that stopped the war in November calls for a complete Armenian troop withdrawal from Karabakh.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry dismissed the claim as an “outright falsification.” “The November 9 statement envisages the withdrawal of Armenian troops only from the territories adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh,” it said.
The ministry also insisted that the Defense Army remains vital for the security of Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population.