Alarming rumors about the demarcation of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border
Armenia has not yet experienced the shock after the defeat in the second Karabakh war; early elections are scheduled in the country to overcome the crisis of power. And against the background of the election campaign, scandals periodically erupt in the country. In May, a secret document on the demarcation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border appeared on the network, which is supposedly going to be signed by the current head of government Nikol Pashinyan.
According to him, acting. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan allegedly agreed to carry out demarcation and territorial concessions to Azerbaijan in exchange for the withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from the territory of Armenia, which had advanced several kilometers here since May 12.
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In case of signing the document, according to Minasyan, five villages of Tavush and one village in Ararat regions will go to Azerbaijan.
The scandal erupted a month ago, but it is still unclear whether any document will be signed, on what conditions the border will be determined. If Armenia agrees to the transfer of villages, will it get its enclaves back? And what strategic roads can the country lose as a result of this process?
A group of Armenian journalists, together with political scientists and experts, went to the border villages of Tavush to familiarize themselves with the situation on the spot.
What document are we talking about
Work on the document on the demarcation of the borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been completed, and it will be published soon, Mikael Minasyan wrote on Facebook on May 19, attaching part of the classified document to the record.
Nikol Pashinyan confirmed that a certain document is indeed being discussed with Azerbaijan, but it is 100 percent in line with the interests of Armenia.
On May 20, the full text of the document appeared on the Internet, which did not contain a clause on territorial concessions.
There is information that the transfer of some villages of the Tavush region of Armenia to Azerbaijan was planned according to a trilateral statement, which was signed by the leaders of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan following the results of the second Karabakh war.
In the original text of the document, which the President of Azerbaijan immediately read out in his address to the people, it was written that “Aghdam region and territories held by the Armenian side in the Gazakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan shall be returned to the Azerbaijani side until November 20, 2020”.
Speaking about the territories of the Gazakh region, which are held by the Armenian side, Ilham Aliyev had in mind some villages of the Tavush region of Armenia.
Later, the final text of the statement appeared on the Kremlin’s website, which did not mention the territories of the “Gazakh region of Azerbaijan”. And the press secretary of the Russian president Dmitry Peskov urged to focus on the Kremlin version.
How does the signing of the document threaten Armenia
Azerbaijan is forcing Armenia to sign another surrender agreement, political scientist Edgar Elbakyan believes:
“Armenia recognizes the so-called territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within the boundaries that this piece of paper obliges.”
In his opinion, the transfer of the territories of the Ararat and Tavush regions to Azerbaijan will lead to a multiplier negative effect:
“If these enclaves are surrendered to Azerbaijan, the front line in Tavush will be destroyed – the Azerbaijanis will find themselves in the rear of our troops. Armenia will exist until the Azerbaijanis close the roads leading from Tavush to Georgia and Russia or from Syunik to Iran. If this happens, which is a very realistic scenario during a possible escalation, the country will find itself in a total blockade. “
An interstate highway passes through the Tavush region, which connects Armenia with Georgia and Russia. If the Tavush enclaves are transferred, more than two kilometers of this route will come under the control of Azerbaijan. Identical problems have already arisen on the interstate road linking Armenia and Iran.
However, the head of the Armenian government Nikol Pashinyan assures that the opening of communications with Azerbaijan is beneficial to both sides:
“If someone says that it is only beneficial for Azerbaijan, do not believe it. The opening of communications is beneficial for both Armenia and Azerbaijan ”.
Turkologist Varuzhan Geghamyan is sure that in reality there will be no unblocking of communications, and the main communication infrastructures will completely depend on Turkey and Azerbaijan, “which can close them at any time”:
“There will be complete dependence on desires and relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey. And we see that these relations will not be friendly or partnership. The enmity will continue regardless of the rhetoric on the part of the authorities. “
What villages can be transferred to Azerbaijan?
Mikael Minasyan, who published the classified document, did not specify which villages are supposed to be given to Azerbaijan.
Soviet Azerbaijan had three enclaves on the territory of Soviet Armenia, says journalist Tatul Hakobyan.
“One of them was in the Noyemberyan region, the second in Ijevan, and the third in Ararat.”
The enclaves in the Noyemberyan and Ijevan regions are large.
“In one of them the villages of Baganis-Ayrum, Nerkin Voskepar and Verin Voskepar are located, and the other enclave consists of the villages of Barkhudarlu and Sofulu”.
Barkhudarlu is located between the Armenian villages of Azatamut and Aygehovit. It was in this village that the first stop of the train that once traveled from Ijevan to Baku was located.
Tatul Hakobyan warns that Baganis-Ayrum, Verin Voskepar and Nerkin Voskepar should not be confused with the Armenian village of Voskepar.
Azerbaijanis used to live in enclave villages.
“In the 1920s, these Azerbaijanis and these villages were part of Soviet Armenia. Under the influence of some circumstances, an exchange took place. We received some territories from Soviet Azerbaijan – and these enclaves were created”.
Turkologist Varuzhan Geghamyan also speaks about constant exchanges and shifts of borders:
“The borders between the two Soviet republics changed at intervals of 5-10 years. And this process was not regulated in any way, everything was decided at the level of local leaders – and not even the leaders of the republics, but local party leaders. “
Since 1992, no one has been living in the former enclaves of Barkhudarlu, Sofulu and Verin Voskepar (Yukhari Eskipara, as the Azerbaijanis call him). All residents left during the first Karabakh war.
What will happen to the village of Azatamut
The village is located in close proximity to the Baganis Ayrum enclave. And if no one lives there, then there are about 3,500 inhabitants in Azatamut.
If the enclave is given to Azerbaijan, then on its territory there may be fields and pastures where local residents graze livestock, as well as a section of the railway that used to connect Soviet Azerbaijan with Soviet Armenia.
Political scientist Edgar Elbakyan believes that as a result of this, the villagers will leave it – it will simply be unsafe here, even if peacekeepers are deployed here.
In the vicinity of Azatamut there are the villages of Ditavan and Aygepar, which, in case of land transfer, will be in a semi-encirclement.
“We cannot live together”
In Azatamut, no one was eager to communicate with journalists. Local residents are sure that publications in the press only hinder the negotiation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Surik Bagmanyan was one of the few who agreed to talk and talk about the life of the village. Grandpa Surik says that the situation here is tense – people can’t even take their children to kindergarten or school.
He remembers well the joint life of Armenians and Azerbaijanis, but now he no longer considers it possible:
“Maybe in a hundred years, I don’t know. After the war, they are angry, and our people are hot. After so many victims [of the second Karabakh war] we will not be able to live together. “
Everyone in the village is waiting for the conflict to be resolved. At the same time, many have left, says grandfather Surik:
“There are those who have nowhere to go. Many hope for the Russians. But I don’t expect anything from them. Ever since tsarist times, since the time of Sardarapat [the Sardarapat battle took place in 1918, Armenian regular troops and militias stopped the Turkish troops invading Armenia] the Russians said: go, we cover your rear, and when ours turned around, they saw that no one was behind them not”.
What Nikol Pashinyan says
During the election campaign in Tavush on June 11, Nikol Pashinyan stated that the solution to the issue of the former enclaves lies in international practice and law:
“According to them, the current situation remains unchanged. Why? Because we also have an enclave – Artsvashen, which is under the control of Azerbaijan. Our logic is as follows: the enclave should be exchanged for an enclave, and what is under their control [of Azerbaijan] remains under their control, what is under our control remains under ours. “