Speaking at a government session in Yerevan on Friday Pashinian observed that Azerbaijani soldiers blocked sections of the Goris-Kapan that lie in the territory currently controlled by Baku shortly after he presented a five-year action plan of his government in the Armenian parliament pledging that Armenia will do its part to usher in an “era of peace” in the region.
“I hope that the situations with roads in Syunik will be settled as soon as possible,” Pashinian said.
Azerbaijan established control over several sections of Armenia’s main interstate highway that is also vital for connection with Iran when its forces regained several districts around Nagorno-Karabakh as a result of a 44-day war last fall.
In doing so Baku referred to Soviet-era maps showing administrative borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The roads in questions had been controlled by Armenia since the break-up of the Soviet Union and the first Nagorno-Karabakh war in the early 1990s that left ethnic Armenians in control of large swaths of territory outside the former autonomous region proper.
Last December Russia, which had brokered a ceasefire deal to end the armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, also arranged with Yerevan and Baku that Armenians will continue to use a 21-kilometer stretch of the highway that passes through Azerbaijani-controlled territory under the supervision of Russian border-guards until Armenia builds another alternative road for all types of transportation to connect two parts of the mountainous region.
Pashinian stressed that with its actions these days Azerbaijan breaks the December arrangements.
Pashinian again denied that Armenians had any relation to an alleged stabbing of an Azerbaijani border-guard in the area on August 25 that Baku used as a pretext for closing the road. The Armenian leader said Yerevan was ready for a joint investigation of the incident with the participation of representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.
“Such a situation was not unexpected for us and in the meantime we have worked and will continue to work to build new infrastructure. But the reopening of roads in the Eyvazli and Chaizami sections can be a very good symbol of regional stability,” Pashinian said.
The Armenian prime minister instructed his cabinet to pursue road construction work in Syunik, in particular, complete the reconstruction of the Tatev-Aghvani road until the end of the year as well as work on other roads to ensure reliable connection of communities with the regional center and state and interstate highways.
Earlier on Friday, Armenia’s Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan said that problems with travel in Syunik seriously affected life of the local population, including their access to goods and medical services. He said the situation also seriously limited trade between Armenia and Iran.