The road runs from Goris, a town in Armenia’s Syunik province, to the provincial capital Kapan and further south to the Armenian-Iranian border. The Armenian government controversially ceded a 21-kilometer section of it to Azerbaijan last December, saying that it is located on the Azerbaijani side of the Soviet-era Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
The government said at the time that travellers in Armenia will continue to use the strategic highway without any road checks. Russian border guards deployed in Syunik following last year’s Armenian-Azerbaijani war were supposed to guarantee their safety.
They reportedly began escorting Armenian cars driving along the Azerbaijani-controlled stretch one week after Azerbaijani authorities set up the checkpoint on September 12 to stop and tax Iranian trucks. Many of the truck drivers have refused to pay hefty “road taxes.”
The disruption was on the agenda of Papikian’s meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kopyrkin which the government said focused on a wide range of issues of mutual interest, including defense, security and energy.
“We also discussed the situation at the Goris-Kapan highway section, emphasizing Russia’s important and constructive role in terms of reducing tensions and finding solutions to arising problems,” Papikian wrote on his Facebook page. He did not elaborate.
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said last week that the road crisis underscores the need to demarcate the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. She said Moscow submitted relevant proposals to Baku and Yerevan and is awaiting their responses.
“In the meantime, we will continue joint efforts to unblock transport and economic links in the region in line with the implementation of [Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani] agreements reached at the highest level,” added Zakharova.