Ararat Mirzoyan
Ararat Mirzoyan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on December 7 again threatened to forcibly open a land “corridor” that would connect Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave via Armenia southeastern Syunik province.

Aliyev recalled last year war over Nagorno-Karabakh when he commented on the transport link sought by Baku during a visit to a region in northern Azerbaijan on Monday.

“Armenia and the whole world saw [during the war] that nobody could stop us… I was demanding that they present us with a date for the liberation of our lands before we stop [hostilities.] I am saying the same thing now: tells us when the Zangezur corridor will be opened and there will be no problems,” he said in remarks published Tuesday morning.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry condemned the remarks as a threat to Armenia’s territorial integrity. It said they also run counter to understandings that were reached by Aliyev and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan during their talks hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on November 26.

Speaking right after those talks, the three leaders reported major progress towards the opening of transport links between Armenia and Azerbaijan envisaged by the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the six-week war in November 2020.

Putin said a Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani working group dealing with the matter will announce in the coming days “decisions which we agreed today.”

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The group co-headed by deputy prime ministers of the three states announced no agreements after holding a meeting in Moscow on December 1. A senior Armenian official confirmed that it failed to hammer out final details of the deal. He said the Azerbaijani side is “not displaying the kind of political will that necessary for furthering the agreements reached in Sochi.”

Aliyev said on Monday, December 6, that Yerevan should end its “insincere” position in the talks before it is “too late” to do that.

The truce accord commits Armenia to opening rail and road links between Nakhichevan and the rest of Azerbaijan. Armenia should be able, for its part, to use Azerbaijani territory as a transit route for cargo ships to Russia and Iran.

Aliyev has repeatedly said that the deal calls for a special “corridor,” a claim denied by the Armenian government. Deputy Prime Minister Grigoryan insisted last week that the three leaders discussed in Sochi conventional transport links, rather than “exterritorial roads” implied by Aliyev.

In related news, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov cancelled at the last minute a fresh meeting with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan which was due to be held late last week.

The two men had planned to meet in Stockholm on the sidelines of an annual meeting of foreign ministers of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) member states.

An Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Baku called off the meeting in response to an Armenian parliamentary delegation’s “illegal visit” to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry reported earlier on Saturday that Mirzoyan’s planned talks with Bayramov did not take place. But it gave no reasons for the cancellation.

The US, Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group regretted the ministers’ failure to meet for the fourth time in less than three months. In a joint statement issued over the weekend, they expressed readiness to host such a meeting “as soon as circumstances allow.”

In a separate development, Azerbaijan freed on Saturday ten Armenian prisoners of war in return for receiving more information from Armenia about minefields around Nagorno-Karabakh.


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