YEREVAN (Eurasia.net) – Armenia is set to sign an agreement with Azerbaijan that could address many of the current disputes between the two sides, but amid collapsing trust in the government many Armenians are demanding that the terms of the deal be made public.
On May 20, Armenia’s acting prime minister Nikol Pashinyan confirmed the authenticity of a document that had been circulating online since the previous evening. He called it a “preliminary agreement” that was “100 percent consistent with the national interests of Armenia. If Azerbaijan implements the agreements [that are stipulated in the document] then I will sign the document,” he told a government session.
A heavily redacted image of a document, to be signed by Pashinyan, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and Russian President Vladimir Putin was released earlier by Mikayel Minasyan, a son-in-law of former president Serzh Sargsyan and a leading critic and gadfly of Pashinyan. The unredacted part of the document calls for the creation of a joint commission to demarcate the border between the two countries, and for each country to appoint delegates to the commission by May 31.
Minasyan wrote on his Telegram channel that other parts of the agreement called for the withdrawal of Azerbaijani forces from the border area into which they made an incursion a week earlier, the return of some Armenians who remain detained in Azerbaijan, and the handover of six villages. Minasyan didn’t specify the villages, but he likely was referring to several slivers of land in Azerbaijan’s Qazax region that Armenia took control of as the Soviet Union was collapsing. Minasyan said that Pashinyan was still working on a way to word the agreement “in a way that [the handover of the villages] will be unnoticeable so that it will be easy for him to get re-elected.”
Minasyan said that Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazyan has refused to sign the document. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not commented on the allegation.