Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tigran Balayan at a news briefing in Yerevan, May 22, 2018

By Ruzanna Stepanian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Azerbaijan may attack Armenia in the coming weeks to open a land corridor to its Nakhichevan exclave unless the West imposes sanctions on Baku, a senior Armenian diplomat claimed in an interview published on October 9.

“We are now under imminent threat of invasion into Armenia because if [Azerbaijani President Ilham] Aliyev is not confronted with very practical steps taken by the so-called collective West, then he has no reason or incentive to limit himself to the territory of Nagorno -Karabakh,” Tigran Balayan, the Armenian ambassador to the EU, told

“He and some of his Turkish counterparts have declared that they need to open a land corridor through Armenia’s sovereign territory,” said Balayan.

Asked just how imminent the attack is, he said. “I think if bold steps are not taken, it’s a matter of weeks.”

The Armenian Foreign Ministry did not clarify as of Monday evening whether Balayan’s remarks reflect his official position and, if so, what they are based on. For its part, the Defense Ministry in Yerevan said only that the situation along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border is “relatively stable” now.

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Yerevan said in early September that Azerbaijani troops are massing along the border and the “line of contact” in Nagorno-Karabakh in possible preparation for a large-scale attack. About two weeks later, they launched an offensive in Karabakh that caused a mass exodus of its population and paved the way for the restoration of Baku’s control over the region.

The Azerbaijani takeover of Karabakh raised more fears in Yerevan that Baku will also attack Armenia to open an extraterritorial land corridor to Nakhichevan passing through Syunik, the only Armenian province bordering Iran. Aliyev and other Azerbaijani leaders regularly demand such a corridor.

Iran has repeatedly warned against attempts to strip it of the common border and transport links with Armenia. Iranian leaders reiterated last week Tehran’s strong opposition to “any changes in the geopolitics of the region.” According to a deputy chief of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s staff, he told visiting Armenian and Azerbaijani officials that the corridor sought by Baku is “resolutely opposed by Iran” because it would give NATO a “foothold” in the region.

The EU and the United States voiced strong support for Armenia’s territorial integrity following the latest escalation in Karabakh. But they signaled no sanctions against Azerbaijan, which is becoming a major supplier of natural gas to Europe.

Balayan suggested that the sanctions include price caps on Azerbaijani oil and gas imported by the EU. He said the 27-nation bloc should also suspend a visa facilitation agreement with Baku if the latter refuses to withdraw troops from Armenian territory seized in 2021 and 2022.

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