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Armenia, Azerbaijan ‘Not Negotiating’ On Border Demarcation


ARMENIA -- Azerbaijani (L) and Armenian outposts at the Sotk gold mine on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, June 18, 2021

Armenia and Azerbaijan have still not started negotiations on demarcating their long and contested border, a senior Armenian official said on Thursday.

Tensions have run high in recent months at several sections of the border where Azerbaijani troops reportedly advanced a few kilometers into Armenian territory in mid-May.

Responding to a continuing military standoff there, Russia, the United States and the European Union have repeatedly called on Baku and Yerevan to start delimiting and demarcating the frontier. Moscow has offered to act as a mediator in such talks.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian stated later in May that the talks are conditional on an Azerbaijani withdrawal from Armenia’s “sovereign territory” and the release of dozens of Armenian prisoners held in Azerbaijan one year after the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. But he indicated in early August that his government is ready to negotiate without any preconditions.

Eduard Aghajanian, the pro-government chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on foreign relations, confirmed that Yerevan now stands for the unconditional start of demarcation talks. He said the Azerbaijani troop withdrawal and release of the Armenian prisoners would create a “positive background” for them.

Aghajanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that the talks have not started yet. He said Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is linking them to a “peace treaty” that would commit Armenia to recognizing Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh.

“Naturally, this cannot be acceptable to us,” added the former chief of Pashinian’s staff.

Tigran Abrahamian, a lawmaker representing the opposition Pativ Unem bloc, criticized the Armenian government’s negotiating strategy.

“They are trying to make people believe that the demarcation process will quickly solve all contentious issues,” said Abrahamian. “In fact, it will never solve those issues. We are well aware what the negotiations conducted by these authorities for the past three years led to and what tragic consequences they had.”

Opposition politicians and other critics of the government have for months been alleging that Pashinian is ready to cede more Armenian territory to Baku as a result of the planned demarcation process. The prime minister and his allies deny that.

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