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Proposed agreement on Armenia-Azerbaijan borders sparks protest in Armenia

21 May 2021
Photo via RFE/RL.

Armenia's acting Prime minister Nikol Pashinyan Armenia and Azerbaijan are close to a new agreement on the demarcation and delimitation of state borders. His statement comes on the heels of the leak of what appears to be a draft of the agreement.

The future Armenia-Azerbaijan border demarcation commission would work under Russian coordination, Pashinyan said. While the acting Armenian Prime Minister has signalled his support of the document, it has not yet been signed or agreed upon.

The draft document has been a source of great speculation in Armenia, especially after 19 May when Mikayel Minasyan, the son-in-law of Armenia’s deposed third President Serzh Sargsyan, leaked a redacted version of the agreement and claimed that the Pashinyan government was preparing to make territorial concessions to Azerbaijan.

The following day an unredacted version of the document was also leaked

The leaks sparked outrage and two protests, one on 19 May and the second on 20 May, with the latter being dispersed by police who detained a number of protesters. Meanwhile, Parliamentary opposition parties Bright Armenia and Prosperous Armenia proposed a parliamentary declaration that reaffirmed the constitutional provision that every decision regarding state borders subject to either a vote in parliament or national referendum. The declaration failed to obtain a majority, as MPs from Pashinyan’s ruling My Step coalition refused to vote.

In addition to the redacted leak Minasyan claimed Pashinyan was discussing the handover of six villages in Armenia’s Tavush and Ararat regions.  The two regions contain two small enclaves of Azerbaijani territory that Armenia has controlled since the early 1990s. The unredacted document only described the formation of a tripartite border commission, consisting of delegations from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. 

Armenia’s Foreign Ministry and the country’s President, Armen Sarkissian, have released statements claiming that they weren’t aware of the negotiations over a new border agreement. According to the Foreign Ministry, the negotiations were the purview of the Prime Minister and the country’s military.

During his speeches in the Government and National Assembly on May 20, the acting Prime Minister denied Minasyan’s claim of the document being ‘Anti-Armenian’, stating that it ‘100% fits Armenia’s interests’ and accused Minasyan of serving Azerbaijani interests. 

The Russian government has criticised the Minasyan leak with Kremlin spokesperson Dimitry Peskov calling for restraint when dealing with such ‘crazy publications’.  

Tensions at the Armenia-Azerbaijan border have continued over the past two weeks. According to Pashinyan there are, at present, 500 to 600 Azerbaijani soldiers on Armenian soil in the southern province of Syunik. Negotiations on the withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from their new positions have not, as of yet, yielded any results.

[Read more on OC Media: Border crisis between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues]

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