Azerbaijani customs for Armenian citizens on Goris-Kapan road - what's happening?
Azerbaijan to open customs posts for Armenian citizens on Goris-Kaplan road
From the evening of November 10, an outrage has sparked in Armenia amid Azerbaijan announcing that it will establish customs posts between the Armenian cities of Goris and Kapan for the citizens of Armenia. Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia Armen Grigoryan announced this on November 10 on the air of Public Television.
The matter concerns the section of the Goris-Kapan highway, which came under the control of Azerbaijan after the second Karabakh war. Earlier, since September, Azerbaijan established a police and customs posts here, which checked foreign citizens, in particular, Iranian trucks.
According to the Secretary of the Security Council Armen Grigoryan, Azerbaijan has not yet provided full information on the border control procedures. The Armenian side assumes that the citizens of Armenia will be able to pass this section of the road after paying customs duties.
Details of the situation, as well as the opinions of Armenian politicians and analysts.
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PM Pashinyan‘s statement
On the morning of November 11, at a government meeting, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan provided some details on Azerbaijan’s decision:
“Yesterday we received an unofficial notification from Azerbaijan that from midnight on November 11 customs and passport control for the citizens of the Republic of Armenia and [transported] goods will be carried out.
After receiving the notification, we decided to advise citizens passing through this section of the road to travel via the M2 Kapan-Aghvani-Tat-Halidzor-Shinuair highway”.
At the same time, the Prime Minister of Armenia assured that the Azerbaijani post is not located on the territory of Armenia but at the Eyvazly-Chayzy section, that is, the Azerbaijani territory.
He said that it was possible to negotiate that Azerbaijan would not establish customs posts here, but the “price” that would have to be paid for this does not suit the Armenian side:
“The price would be ‘corridor logic’, which is unacceptable for us”.
Pashinyan referred to the fact that Azerbaijan requires a “corridor”, that is, a road that will connect the country with its exclave Nakhichevan. The Armenian authorities have repeatedly stated that they fully support the concept of unblocking regional communications. However, Yerevan categorically rejects the possibility of providing roads that will not be under the sovereign control of Armenia – and the “corridor logic” presupposes just that.
Unblocking communications is one of the provisions of the trilateral statement on the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh, signed a year ago by the heads of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. In January 2021, a tripartite working group was established to discuss ways to implement this clause of the agreement.
As for the bypass road, which has been impassable for decades, now, according to the prime minister, it has already been repaired and is almost completely ready:
“I drove along this road myself and I can assure you that a high-quality road has been built. The only thing left is to equip it for the passage of cars with a trailer. During the past night, about a hundred vehicles, including Iranian [trucks], drove along this road to Kapan”.
The opposition held a protest outside the government building against the establishment of Azerbaijani customs checkpoints on the Goris-Kapan highway. MPs from the Hayastan bloc (Armenia) and a group of outraged citizens tried to break through the police cordon and enter the government building. One of the opposition MPs Gegham Manukyan said that Pashinyan continues to mislead the residents of Armenia and surrender the country’s territories to Azerbaijan:
“He just tried to lie again so my colleagues and I are using our constitutional right to go to the Cabinet meeting and live, not behind closed doors, expose his lies and tell about how he deceives our citizens. Nobody, gentlemen-policemen, can forbid us from using our constitutional right”.
However, the police still did not allow Gegham Manukyan and other deputies to enter the building, and more than 30 protesters were detained.
Another deputy of the Hayastan bloc, Anna Grigoryan, stated that as a result of the establishment of Azerbaijani posts, three Armenian villages would be blocked. As for the alternative road, according to the deputy, it cannot fully replace the existing interstate road.
Moreover, Grigoryan stated that after the protest rally she would go to Kapan to drive along the section of the road where Azerbaijani posts are being established and to understand whether ordinary citizens of Armenia would be able to drive along it.
Villages that may be blocked
The villages of Shurnukh, Vorotan and Chakaten may be blocked.
Secretary of the Security Council Armen Grigoryan assured journalists that at this moment none of the villages in the bordering Syunik region are blocked. He also promised that the roads leading to them would be repaired:
“The government will take all measures to avoid any social or economic problems. It is clear that at the moment these roads are not asphalted, but in the very near future they will be asphalted. “
Armen Grigoryan stressed that the government will solve all the problems of these villages, although there is confidence that “there will be no global problems.”
Tigran Abrahamyan, a member of the opposition bloc I Have the Honor, wrote on his Facebook page:
“Until recently, the authorities claimed that they had an agreement with Azerbaijan on the unhindered movement of Armenian vehicles along this road. But it turned out that in fact this agreement will be in effect until the completion of the construction of the alternative road”.
According to the deputy, it is obvious that the Armenian authorities knew about the intentions of Azerbaijan, since the secretary of the Security Council stated that the government had taken similar steps – the border regime will be implemented from the Armenian side as well.
The head of the Armenian Institute for International Relations and Security, Stepa Safaryan, believes that “with its counter-steps, the Armenian side is trying to devalue the posts of the Azerbaijani police”. In his opinion, after a while the existence of customs posts on this road will simply become meaningless, since they will gradually cease to use it:
“Nobody will cross 4 points of passport control in order to travel 21 kilometers, moreover paying customs duties to the budgets of the two countries”.
According to the analyst, the existing alternative road is not the best solution. But he reminds that it is planned to complete the construction of the North-South highway, for which the European Union has allocated 600 million euros and which will completely solve the problem of bypass routes:
“It is possible that they [Azerbaijanis] will leave this territory themselves, because there will no longer be communications there. The situation suggests that they are outraged by the resistance of the Armenian side and their failure to achieve results”.