STEPANAKERT (Combined Sources) — Bowing to strong pressure from Azerbaijan, authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh have ordered ethnic Armenian residents of the Lachin corridor connecting the territory to Armenia to leave their homes before the end of this month.
The five-kilometer-wide corridor became Karabakh’s sole overland link to Armenia following the 2020 war. Armenian forces pulled out of the rest of the wider Lachin district under the terms of the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the six-week hostilities.
The truce accord calls for the construction of a new Armenia-Karabakh highway that will bypass the town of Lachin (Berdzor) and two Armenian-populated villages located within the current corridor protected by Russian peacekeeping troops.
Karabakh’s leadership revealed on August 2 that Azerbaijan has demanded through the peacekeepers the quick closure of the existing corridor and suggested that the Armenian side use a bypass road which has yet to be constructed. Armenia’s government dismissed the demands as “not legitimate” before two Karabakh Armenian soldiers were killed and 19 others wounded on August 3 in heavy fighting with Azerbaijani forces.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan argued on August 4 that the truce accord requires Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia to work out before 2024 a joint “plan” for the construction of a new Armenia-Karabakh road. No such plan has been drawn up yet, he said.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said, however, that the three sides agreed on the “route” of the new corridor earlier this year and accused Yerevan of dragging out work on its Armenian sections.