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Pashinian Says No Trilateral Document Signed On Disputed Road Section In Syunik


Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian speaks at the National Assembly, August 26, 2021

Armenia does not have a signed trilateral document on the 21-kilometer section of an interstate road in the southern Syunik province disputed with Azerbaijan, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said in the National Assembly on Thursday.

His statement came amid reports that Azerbaijan closed the section late on August 25, interrupting traffic between two parts of the mountainous region.

Armenia’s National Security Service said negotiations with the Azerbaijani side, which were reportedly conducted by Russian border-guards deployed in the area, on the re-opening of the road which also provide interstate connection with Iran continued in the morning.

Pashinian reminded that still in his address on December 19, 2020 he spoke about problems related to the Goris-Kapan section and that a political decision had been made for which he was fully responsible.

He quoted an excerpt from his December address: “Today, Russian border troops and other forces are fully represented in Syunik. We are talking about the Goris-Vorotan-Shurnukh section, and this is a completely new security situation. Of course, as a result of all this, transport and logistical difficulties may arise, uninterrupted operation of some of our roads may become complicated, but these are solvable problems, we have made efforts in this direction, including through having a trilateral document.”

Pashinian reminded about accusations being made by the opposition that his government sought to sign some document “behind the people’s back.”

“Did we sign a trilateral document? No, we did not have a trilateral document,” he said.

Instead, according to Pashinian, the Defense Ministry announced an arrangement with the Russian military under which, in particular, Russian border-guards would be deployed at the Goris-David Bek section to ensure uninterrupted traffic, while Armenian and Azerbaijani border troops would be deployed on the opposite sides of the line of contact.”

“We did not provide information only about the sectors that could pose additional risks to our national security, also to avoid situations similar to one we have today,” Pashinian explained.

As for what happened last night on the Shurnukh section of the Goris-Kapan interstate road, Pashinian said: “We are talking about the 21-kilometer section, which was outside the territory of Soviet Armenia according to the maps of the Soviet Union. The Azeris came to those places and closed them, citing an incident in which an Azerbaijani border-guard was allegedly stabbed by people who came from the Armenian side. We officially say that the information about the stabbing does not correspond to the reality. We urge the Azerbaijani side to provide us with evidence of the incident so that we can understand what happened. But this [closing of the road] contradicts what is written in the Defense Ministry’s December 19, 2020 agreement that was reached between Armenia and Russia, by which that arrangement was confirmed. But no trilateral statement that I said was being prepared was eventually signed.”

At the same time, Pashinian rejected claims that part of Syunik is now disconnected from the rest of Armenia, noting that anticipating the situation the government has worked actively to provide an alternative route through what he described as a “normal dirt road” between Kapan and Aghvani, which he said is now being asphalted at a fast pace.

The State Border Service of Azerbaijan claimed on August 25 that two Armenian soldiers committed a stabbing attack against an Azerbaijani border-guard on the Goris-Kapan section of the road.

Armenia’s Defense Ministry on Thursday categorically denied that any such incident happened, describing Baku’s statement as a “sheer lie” and “another piece of Azerbaijani disinformation.”

Meanwhile, ethnic Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh today said that on August 25 a serviceman of Azerbaijan’s armed forces identified as Jamil Babayev was apprehended at an apartment in the Armenian-controlled town of Martakert. Officials in Stepanakert said the detained Azerbaijani soldier is suspected of planning to commit murders.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said that Babayev, against whom a criminal case had been launched, left the psychiatric department of Ganja’s hospital without permission and presumably crossed into the Karabakh territory controlled by Russian peacekeepers.

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