The Sev Lidj (Black Lake) region of Armenia’s Syunik Province (Photo by Armenia’s Human Right Defenders Office)The standoff at Armenia’s border continued on Monday with negotiations over the weekend to resolve the situation stalling after Azerbaijani forces breached Armenia’s sovereign borders late last week and assumed positions mainly around the Sev Lidj (Black Lake) region of the Syunik Province.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry said on Monday that tensions on the border have not eased since talks between representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia failed to yield results. Reportedly there are more than 250 Azerbaijani troops currently encamped in Armenia.
“Following talks on May 16, several brigades of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces that had entered the territory of the Republic of Armenia returned to their starting positions. Nevertheless, a part of the military is still in the territory of the Republic of Armenia,” said Armenia’s defense ministry in a statement on Monday.
Armenia’s Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutynyan discussed the border standoff on Monday with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas and the Russian Federal Security Service. “The Ministry of Defense reiterates that any encroachment on the sovereign territories of the Republic of Armenia is absolutely unacceptable, and stresses that the Azerbaijani military must leave our territory without any preconditions to avoid unpredictable consequences,” said Armenia’s Defense Ministry.
Commander of the Russian peacekeeping forces in Artsakh, General Rustam Muradov participated in the weekend negotiations, which are scheduled to resume on Wednesday.
Based on an agreement reached during talks in Syunik, the Azerbaijani forces will retreat from Syunik border, but will keep two checkpoints near the Armenian positions, Spatrak Minasyan, head of the Akner community in Syunik, told Public Radio of Armenia on Sunday.
“They have to go back in some parts. Tents will be set up in our positions. The Azerbaijani side has not set up tents,” Minasyan told Public Radio of Armenia.
Meanwhile the acting mayor of Goris, Menua Hovsepyan, told Public Radio of Armenia that the Azerbaijani side has put forward some preconditions.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry said that Saturday night, the Azerbaijani forces attempted to advance what it called “logistical work,” which was prevented by Armenian forces.
On Monday, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan convened a National Security Council meeting, during which he announced that the stalled weekend talks would continue on Wednesday.
“The negotiations have one theme: Azerbaijani troops must leave Armenian territory,” Pashinyan said Monday. “This means that we must continue to activate mechanisms of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and continue to work on activating Russian-Armenian allied mechanisms.”
Last week, Armenia officially asked the CSTO and Russia for help in the matter, which would require a collective response from CSTO member-states.
Shortly after the National Security Council meeting Pashinyan said in a Facebook post that tensions at “some portions” of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border have intensified in the last few hours due to increased “aggressiveness of Azerbaijani forces.”