Lavrov revealed at the same time that the Armenian government has agreed to simplify border crossing procedures for Azerbaijani cargo and travellers that will use the planned transit routes.
Armenia and Azerbaijan are to reopen their border to commercial and passenger traffic under the terms of a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped their six-week war for Nagorno-Karabakh in November 2020.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly claimed that the deal calls for a permanent land corridor for Nakhichevan passing through Armenia’s Syunik province that also borders Iran. Aliyev said in December that passage through the corridor must be exempt from Armenian border controls. Yerevan rejected his demands.
The disagreements effectively suspended the work of a Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani commission dealing with practical modalities of the transport links.
The commission met in Moscow late last week for the first time in five months. The Russian government said its Armenian and Azerbaijani members “brought closer their positions on issues of border, customs and other types of control.”
Speaking after talks with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, Lavrov said that Baku, Moscow and Yerevan are now finalizing a deal on a “simplified” border control regime for the road to Nakhichevan.
“It will be simplified but it will precisely be based on the recognition of the sovereignty of Armenian territory,” Lavrov told a joint news conference with Mirzoyan. “There can be no ambiguities here.”
“We have a sense that our Armenian and Azerbaijani colleagues proceed from this,” he said.
Lavrov did not specify whether people and cargo using the Syunik roads will be checked by Armenian customs and immigration officers. It is also unclear if the same simplified regime will be put in place for the transit of Armenian goods through Azerbaijan.
Mirzoyan stressed that “all roads that will be opened or reopened will remain under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the country through which they pass.” He said Baku and Yerevan have yet to work out “many details” of the transport links.
“But discussions are continuing and I think that we will have mutually acceptable solutions,” added the Armenian minister.
Neighboring Iran has repeatedly voiced support for full Armenian control over all roads passing through Armenia. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi reaffirmed Tehran’s stance in a June 1 phone call with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.
The issue was high on the agenda of Pashinian’s last meeting with Aliyev held in Brussels on May 22. European Council President Charles Michel, who hosted the meeting, said the two leaders agreed on “principles of border administration, security, land fees but also customs in the context of international transport.” He did not elaborate.