"The demand to close the Lachin corridor is populism." Opinions from Baku
Demand to close the Lachin corridor
Relations between official Baku and the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Karabakh are heating up. There are calls in Azerbaijan to take control of the movement of vehicles along the Lachin corridor, with some politicians demanding the road be closed altogether. The demand to close the Lachin corridor is populism, former Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofig Zulfugarov believes.
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Zulfugarov on demands to close the Lachin corridor
“It is a little strange to read when, at the suggestion of our opponents and some populists, we use the phrase ‘close the Lachin corridor’.
Our goal is to prevent the transport of weapons, anti-constitutional activities and propaganda, smuggling, drug trafficking, etc. into or on the territory of our country. And activities that do not contradict our laws, including humanitarian activities, can and should continue unhindered,” former Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Tofig Zulfugarov wrote on Facebook.
To ensure this it is enough to establish, in addition to the Russian contingent’s positions, border guard, customs service and sanitary control posts in accordance with current legislation:
“This will allow us to ensure the requirements of the law on the border, and the Russian peacekeepers will continue to provide security in accordance with the provisions of the statement of November 10, 2020.
This approach will ensure a conflict-free solution of this this problem, depriving our opponents of arguments in counter-propaganda,” he added.
He also noted that it would be advisable to ensure a constant online broadcast of the activities of Azerbaijani posts to prevent provocations.
Azerbaijani Defense Ministry criticizes peacekeepers
Over the past week, relations between official Baku and the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation in Karabakh have worsened. Not a day passes without the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry issuing a statement criticizing the peacekeepers for the style of writing in their daily bulletins.
In particular, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry draws the attention of the Russian peacekeeping contingent to the fact that there is no administrative unit called “Nagorno-Karabakh” in Azerbaijan. The Ministry of Defense also considers it unacceptable to use the old names of settlements in Karabakh, renamed after Azerbaijan gained independence.
Arms supply allegations
Official Baku has recently stated that armaments are being supplied from Armenia along the Lachin road to the part of Karabakh where the Armenian population lives.
These statements were reflected both in the statements of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry and were heard from the lips of officials at various levels at meetings with foreign colleagues.
Azerbaijani politicians argue that this necessitates stronger control over cargo going to Karabakh.
To assess the current situation, one must “carefully and without prejudice” read the tripartite statement of November 10, 2020, which “actually became the last point in the second Karabakh war,” political scientist Fariz Aliyev believes:
“Two points out of nine in the statement are devoted to the Lachin corridor and the road which should connect the western regions of Azerbaijan with the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic. In Azerbaijan, this road is called the Zangezur corridor, because in the Soviet era, the road to Nakhichevan ran through Zangezur, and this is the shortest route between Zangilan and the autonomous republic.
Azerbaijan is right in its demands for a “corridor” status of the road to Nakhichevan, because the requirements for the two roads in the tripartite statement are identical. In both cases the route is controlled by Russian troops. But Armenia still cannot accept this and demands the establishment of border control. Since the conditions for both roads are identical, Azerbaijan demands the same with respect to the Lachin corridor.
There is another important point here. If in the case of the Lachin corridor, people and goods come from Armenia to the territory of Azerbaijan, which is Karabakh, then in the case of the Zangezur corridor the situation is different: people and goods through this road get from one part of Azerbaijan to another part of the same state. Do you see the logic? In other words, if the route along the Zangezur corridor is strictly controlled by Russian border guards, then Armenia cannot interfere in any way with what is transported along this road. Which cannot be said about the Lachin corridor – Azerbaijan, of course, cannot agree to the importation of unwanted cargo into its territory from another country.
In short, I will say that here the choice is up to Armenia: if it insists on control over the Zangezur corridor, then Azerbaijan’s border posts will appear on the Lachin road. This is basic,” Fariz Aliyev said in an interview with JAMnews.