TAVUSH — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met on Monday with concerned residents of two villages in Armenia’s northern Tavush province adjacent to border areas which are part of delimitation process discussions with Azerbaijan.

The statement prompted serious concern from residents of several Tavush villages that would be affected by the withdrawal. The villagers say they would lose access to their land, have trouble communicating with the rest of the country and be far more vulnerable from Azerbaijani armed attacks.

Pashinyan visited two of those border villages, Voskepar and Kirants, and spent more than three hours discussing the issue with locals behind the closed doors. Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service afterwards, he said he repeated his assertions that the areas in question are technically not part of Armenia’s internationally recognized territory.

Pashinyan said that the meetings had been completely video-recorded, and the video would be published, but the parts that contain secret elements would not be publicized.

The Prime Minister noted that the most important was what he said during the press conference on March 12.

“I also showed here the same outline of Armenia that I showed there,” Pashinyan said.

Pashinyan replied to the observation that residents of the border villages of the Tavush region are concerned about the possibility of being blockaded if the so-called enclaves are handed over to Azerbaijan.

“They told us about their concerns and we answered those questions. Our approach is that there should not be a question raised by people that remains unanswered. If it remains unanswered, it means that we do not have a solution to the question,” said Nikol Pashinyan.

When asked if they had answers to the residents’ questions, Pashinyan said that they had answers to some questions. Regarding some questions, I told the residents that I came not only to answer questions but also to collect those questions and put them on the government’s table, to consider their answers and return with a response. There were questions, the urgency of which I felt more profoundly and emotionally on the spot,” Pashinyan noted.

The most important thing, according to him, is that the people’s concerns and security, should practically be proven on the ground and substantiated by structural regulations.

Pashinyan noted that he had not felt hopelessness among people during the meetings.

According to some of the villagers, Pashinyan failed to dispel all of their concerns despite assuring them that his administration has not yet made a final decision on the matter and will consult with them again.

“We said we have land holdings over there,” one Kirants farmer told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “He said ‘it’s part of our territory.’ But if [Azerbaijani] troops are deployed there how will we go about cultivating our land? How can he make sure that we will be able to cultivate the land?”

“The Karabakh pattern is going to be repeated here,” he added grimly. “We won’t have access to our land. We won’t dare to let our kids go to school.”

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