MOSCOW — Armenia and Azerbaijan appear to have failed to put the finishing touches on an agreement to establish cross-border transport connections during the latest round of negotiations mediated by Russia.
Senior Russian, Armenian and Azerbaijani officials making up a trilateral working group met in Moscow on Wednesday five days after the leaders of the three states held talks in another Russian city, Sochi.
The latter reported further progress towards opening the Armenian-Azerbaijani border to passenger and cargo traffic. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the working group dealing with the matter will meet this week to announce “decisions which we agreed today.”
The task force co-headed by deputy prime ministers of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan did not announce any agreements or issue statements after the Moscow meeting that lasted for several hours.
The office of Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan said on Thursday that the meeting “will continue in the coming days.”
“We will be able to speak about its results only after the end of the session,” the office said in a statement to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. It gave no details of Wednesday’s talks.
The secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, Armen Grigoryan, effectively confirmed that Baku and Yerevan have not yet hammered out final details of the deal sought by Moscow.
Speaking at the RFE/RL studio in Yerevan, he said: “I think that Azerbaijan is not displaying the kind of political will that’s necessary for furthering the agreements reached in Sochi.”
“If they [the working group] didn’t manage to make progress, then I think that’s because Azerbaijan was not constructive on this issue,” added Grigoryan.
The Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh commits Armenia to opening rail and road links between Azerbaijan and its Nakhichevan exclave. Armenia should be able, for its part, to use Azerbaijani territory as a transit route for cargo shipments to Russia and Iran.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly claimed that the deal calls for a special “corridor” that will connect Nakhichevan to the rest of Azerbaijan via Armenia’s Syunik province. Commenting on the Sochi talks over the weekend, he declared that the “Zangezur corridor is becoming reality.”
The Armenian Foreign Ministry denied that on Tuesday. Deputy Prime Minister Grigoryan likewise insisted that the three leaders discussed conventional transport links, rather than “exterritorial roads” implied by Aliyev.
“As we have said before, Armenia has not discussed and will not discuss any issue with the logic of a corridor,” the Security Council secretary sa