Armenian-Azerbaijan border crisis deepens as Azerbaijan fails to attend negotiations
For the last week, Armenia has been discussing the escalation in the border region which erupted when Azerbaijani servicemen advanced their positions several kilometers into the sovereign territories of Armenia, towards the Syunik and Gegharkunik regions. Throughout this time, the two countries have been holding negotiations, and the next round was scheduled for May 19, however, Azerbaijan violated the agreement and did not attend.
The situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border has worsened since May 12. The Azerbaijani Armed Forces advanced their positions several kilometers deep into Armenia’s Syunik region, in the direction of the Sevlich reservoir (Black Lake). Later, a similar incident was reported in the Gegharkunik region.
Armenia demands that Azerbaijani servicemen immediately leave the territory of the country and retreat to their initial positions. In turn, Azerbaijan refuses to comply and insists that their troops are positioned within the territory of Azerbaijan.
On May 18, the Armenian media released a map of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR, which shows that the western, southern, and eastern coasts of Sev Lich were located within Armenian SSR while only is only a part of the northern coast, representing about 10% of the lake, was located on the territory of the Azerbaijan SSR.
Armenia began consultations with the Collective Security Treaty Organization – a military bloc which it is a member of, and which Armenia requested provide assistance in resolving the ongoing crisis. On May 19, the CSTO stated that it “is watching with concern the development of the situation in the Syunik region of Armenia.”
As a result of ongoing tensions, the US State Department urged its citizens not to travel to Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan.
India has already reacted to the situation and called on Azerbaijan to withdraw its troops from the territory of Armenia. Earlier, Iran issued a statement saying that “it will not allow alterations of its northern borders” and insisting on preserving the existing borders with Armenia.
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State Department urges US citizens not to travel to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh
The US State Department urged its citizens to refrain from traveling to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, and undertake the roads near the border with Azerbaijan with extra caution.
This is explained by the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of Armenia reported growing numbers of COVID-19 cases and the State Department has established a level four alert in Armenia:
“Please refrain from traveling to Armenia amidst the growing risks of COVID-19 infection in some areas of the country”.
The State Department also urged US citizens not to visit Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent territories because of the recent hostilities:
“After intense hostilities during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the fall of 2020, tensions continue in the area. The US government will not be able to provide emergency services to US citizens in and around Nagorno-Karabakh due to limited access”.
A similar warning regarding visits to Azerbaijan has been released on the website of the State Department. In addition to the high risk of contracting the coronavirus, the American authorities are warning of serious terrorist threats.
Statement by the Secretary of the Security Council
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow had come up with an initiative to create a joint Armenian-Azerbaijani commission on border demarcation and delimitation, in which the Russian Federation would take part as a mediator.
In turn, Secretary of the Security Council Armen Grigoryan stated that Yerevan welcomes the efforts of Russia, but in order to solve the issue of demarcating and delimiting the state border, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces must leave the territory of Armenia first.
Grigoryan added that Azerbaijan’s actions are clearly aimed at disrupting the fulfillment of the obligations outlined in the joint statements with Russia of November 9, 2020 and January 11, 2021 on the cessation of hostilities and further actions of conflict parties.
What does the CSTO say?
CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas stated that the situation on the Armenian border was the subject of discussion during the meeting of the CSTO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) in Dushanbe.
“We emphasize that there is no alternative to the implementation of the trilateral agreements of November 9, 2020”, Zas said.
Armenia uses USSR maps to prove that Sev Lich lake belongs to Armenia
On May 18, a map of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR appeared in the Armenian media, proving that most of the Sevlich reservoir is located in the Armenian SSR. The map shows that only a part of the northern shore of the lake is located in the territory of the Azerbaijan SSR.
Over the past 30 years, no legally binding delimitation or demarcation work has been carried out between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Therefore, as Armenia maintains, the maps of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR remain the most accurate, complete, and fundamental sources upon which the process of demarcation should be based on.