YEREVAN — Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan confirmed on Wednesday that Armenia has set a number of conditions for starting the demarcation of its long border with Azerbaijan sought by Russia.
Emphasizing that Armenia rejects any “corridor” precondition. “There can be no corridor through the territory of Armenia,” Mirzoyan said, adding that any such roadway must remain under Armenian control.
Russia as well as the United States and France, the two other co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, believe that such a process would help to prevent deadly fighting that regularly erupts at various sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
The issue was high on the agenda of talks between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi last November. Aliyev and Pashinyan pledged to set up a joint commission on border delimitation and demarcation by the end of December. It was also agreed that Moscow will facilitate the commission’s work.
The commission has still not been formed, however. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that Baku and Yerevan have not yet bridged their differences on the demarcation process.
Lavrov also said that Moscow has received new Armenian “proposals” regarding the commission’s activities and will communicate them to the Azerbaijani side. He did not disclose them.
Mirzoyan confirmed those proposals but gave few details. He said only that they involve “a set of measures” designed to ease tensions on the heavily militarized border.
“We believe that as long as there are no concrete mechanisms and concrete steps to enhance stability and security in the border zone and to help prevent further clashes there … that commission will have trouble working,” Mirzoyan told the Armenian parliament.
The minister indicated that those steps should include a mutual withdrawal of Armenian and Azerbaijani troops from their border posts and the deployment of international observers there.
Pashinyan has repeatedly advocated the idea of troop withdrawal in recent months. It has not been backed by Baku so far.