The deputy prime ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Mher Grigoryan and Shahin Mustafayev met on Tuesday on the border of the two countries to kick off the process of delimitation and demarcation of borders as agreed to during talks in Brussels a day before.
However, the so-called progress that was hailed by President of Council of Europe Charles Michel—who hosted the meeting with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan—seemed short-lived because Aliyev announced that they had reached an agreement on the opening of the so-called “Zangezur Corridor,” a scheme he has hatched to connect mainland Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan through Armenia.
Yerevan has continuously denied such an agreement and has called it an infringement on Armenia’s territorial integrity.
Aliyev reportedly telephoned his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to update him about his meeting with Pashinyan. Aliyev’s press service reported on Tuesday that he told Erdogan that “the parties reached an agreement on the opening of the Zangezur corridor, including the issue of laying both the railroad and the highway.”
Yerevan was quick to deny Aliyev’s statements with Armenia’s National Security Chief Armen Grigoryan telling Armenpress on Tuesday that no road to transport route can operate as a corridor in the territory of Armenia.
“There have been no changes in the positions of the Republic of Armenia. No road or transport route in can operate as a corridor in the territory of Armenia. All agreements reached in Brussels relate to the opening of regional communication,” said Grigoryan. “All agreements reached in Brussels fit in the framework of the public statements made previously by representatives of Armenia.”
Grigoryan explained that a statement released by Michel on Monday delineating the result of the Pashinyan-Aliyev talks specified the opening of regional transport routes and in that context discussed border and custom controls, road tolls and international transit prerequisites.
“These are important issues for realizing the Armenian Crossroads project, and the Government of Armenia will consistently move in this direction,” Grigoryan emphasized.
Reportedly, Aliyev told Erdogan that the meeting with Pashinyan was “positive” and added that the two discussed “the preparation of a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia, especially the five principles proposed by Baku, the normalization of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, opening of transport corridors, delimitation of borders.”
As announced by the Michel, Mher Grigoryan and Mustafatyev, the deputy prime ministers, voiced their readiness to embark on the border delimitation process and other relevant issues, including border security matters.
Pashinyan and Aliyev on Monday announced the formation of respective commissions, which will be headed by the deputy prime ministers.
In addition to holding meetings at the interstate border, Mher Grigoryan and Mustafatyev agreed on the expediency of different platforms for further meetings of the commissions. Specifically, an agreement was reached to hold the second meeting in Moscow and the third one in Brussels.