. An Azerbaijani sign placed in the area of Shurnukh Village under the control of the Azerbaijanis

‘Peace, the New Stage, Is Impossible’: The Situation at the Borders of Shurnukh Village

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YEREVAN – The village of Shurnukh in the enlarged Goris community of Syunik Province in the Republic of Armenia was divided after the 44-day war into Armenian and Azerbaijani parts, while the Goris-Kapan road became semi-blocked after the placement of Azerbaijani checkpoints. Administrative head of the village Hakob Arshakyan related that the Azerbaijanis installed in one part of the village completed all the construction work a long time ago.

Shurnukh Village

He said, “They are quietly staying in their places there. There are no aggressive things. Just as it was, they are remaining in the same situation. Azerbaijanis have done whatever is necessary, their work. It is the same situation. If they do not want to enter the highway in principle, they will not enter it. They have already secured their connections internally [through land controlled by Azerbaijan]. They can do any work internally. Whenever they wanted, they made their movements with the accompaniment of the Russians.”

Hakob Arshakyan and a map showing Shurnukh on the border with Azerbaijan

In the Karmrakar section, according to Arshakyan, there are also Azerbaijani soldiers, but he observed that the Armenian National Security Service border troops are also located there and are observing the passersby. When necessary, they try to ascertain from the administrative leaders whether it is the inhabitants of the settlements who are passing through that way.

Hakob Arshakyan

“In that section, the Turk [Azerbaijani] does not block the road. There we encounter only our border troops. They ask, where are you going, what are you doing? When it is necessary, they ask for information: who is that man? If he is one of my residents, they telephone me. If they are from Vorotan, they call there. There is movement. The Turk [Azerbaijani] has not blocked the road, but they are there,” Arshakyan said.

The Azerbaijani checkpoint placed on the Goris-Kapan road has created serious problems for Bardrzavan, Vorotan and Shurnukh. There is an alternative road for Bardzravan, the M2, which should intersect with the Tatev-Aghvan road. At least earthworks have begun for the Bardzravan road, though Arshakyan does not know when it will be completed, but the construction of the Shurnukh road has not started.

The Azerbaijanis who seized the Goris-Kapan auto route not only have set up a customs point, but also opened a gas station of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). Arshakyan was the first to speak up about this. To the observation that in this way they are trying to attract Iranian drivers with cheap fuel, he remarked with sorrow: “Why only Iranian drivers? They will pay and come and go. Even the most patriotic resident of Goris will come, buy the Azerbaijan gas at cheap prices, and return. This will happen, no? If it is so, I in turn propose that the part of the road from Vorotan towards Goris where our border guards are located, below Karahunj, be closed by them, the M2, so that the so-called “good” Goris inhabitants who will appear, do not go bring gas and sell it.”

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At the end of the year, border demarcation and delineation work will begin. Arshakyan said, “They divided the village through this situation. They gave it to the Azerbaijanis. The parties were present. The same day the Russian general said that it would take place according to the map of the general staff, I took out the map and showed it. The Turkish [Azerbaijani] general said, ‘Lose that map. We work with GPS.’ I want to say that if, according to what the Russian general says, the border goes through the lower gorge by means of the map of the general staff, the village will completely remain within the administrative territory of the Republic of Armenia. GPS however indicates that they will take 4-5 meters of the gardens even at a section of the highway above M2 and continue in that fashion until the last section of the village. In other words, the Turk [Azerbaijani] says that the border line through the territory of Shurnukh will be drawn according to GPS, while in the Black Lake area, it will be according to the map.”

Arshakyan added that no matter how much they talk about an era of peace, living side by side, things are the same –it will not work.  He concluded, “It is not possible for them to live peacefully. Peace, the new stage, is impossible for any right thinking, Armenian-educated person. It is impossible, if the one standing before you is a Turk [Azerbaijani]. Let us not forget the story of Gurgen Margaryan [the Armenian officer killed with an axe by Ramil Safarov in 2004].”

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