Speaking at a joint press conference with his visiting Algerian counterpart in Baku, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said that Azerbaijan wants to have good relations with its neighbors.
“The only right path to settle relations is to mutually respect the principle of the inviolability of each other’s borders, and we are moving forward based on that principle,” Bayramov said, as quoted by Azerbaijani media.
In March, Azerbaijan presented Armenia with five elements which it wants to be at the heart of a peace treaty to be signed by the two South Caucasus nations that fought a bloody six-week war over Nagorno-Karabakh in the fall of 2020.
The elements include a mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity. The Armenian government, in principle, agreed to the elements, but said they should be complemented by other issues relating to the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh and the security of its population.
Amid a fresh escalation of violence in the conflict zone on August 3 when at least two Armenians and one Azerbaijan soldier were killed, Nagorno-Karabakh’s de facto ethnic Armenian authorities ordered the evacuation, by the end of August, of several Armenian-populated settlements along the Lachin corridor, which is protected by Russian peacekeepers under the terms of the 2020 ceasefire agreement.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian argued during a cabinet session on August 4 that the trilateral agreement requires Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia to work out, before 2024, a joint “plan” for the construction of a new Armenia-Karabakh road. No such plan has been drawn up yet, he said.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said, however, that the three sides did agree on the “route” of the new corridor early this year and accused Yerevan of dragging out work on its Armenian sections.
Eventually, the few remaining Armenian residents of the town of Lachin and Armenian families in the village of Aghavno have been ordered to leave their homes for good until August 25 as the area is due to be handed over to Azerbaijan’s control then.
In his remarks made on August 9 Bayramov accused Armenia of dragging out the fulfilment of another term of the 2020 ceasefire concerning the unblocking of regional transport links.
The Azerbaijan foreign minister again stressed that Armenia has still not opened road and railway links to connect Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave that Baku calls the ‘Zangezur corridor’ implying the extraterritorial status to be given to the routes passing through Armenia’s southern Syunik province.
Last week, the Armenian prime minister again implicitly rejected the corridor logic for the unblocking of regional transport routes, insisting that Armenia must maintain sovereignty over the transport routes in its territory. At the same time, he said that Azerbaijan is free to use any territory of Armenia, including Syunik, for transit purposes in accordance with Armenian legislation.
Bayramov said yesterday that Azerbaijan will in any case get an alternative transport link to its western exclave, referring to the recently launched construction of a bridge over the river Arax, which is part of the infrastructure for such a connection via Iran.
“Armenia is simply given a chance not to be left out of regional cooperation. If Yerevan fails to make the right decision, then it will damage its own interests,” the top Azerbaijani diplomat said, as quoted by Azerbaijan’s Turan news agency.