Armenian analysts on the delivery of aid to NK through Agdam

Aug 4 2023
  • JAMnews
  • Yerevan

Baku offers road through Agdam instead of Lachin

Armenian experts continue to discuss Azerbaijan’s proposal to deliver humanitarian aid to Nagorno-Karabakh through Agdam, that is, the territory of Azerbaijan.

The unrecognized NKR considers this proposal unacceptable, regarding it as an attempt to force integration. The Prime Minister of Armenia has repeatedly stated that he does not have a mandate to discuss this issue.

Since December last year, Azerbaijan has blocked the Lachin corridor, the only road linking the unrecognized republic with Armenia and the outside world. Since June 15, 120,000 people have been under a strict blockade, Azerbaijan does not allow the supply of either food or medicine.

Since July 26, trucks with humanitarian cargo sent by the Armenian government have been idle in the border zone near the Armenian village of Kornidzor, on the outskirts of the blocked Lachin corridor. Baku proposes a route through Aghdam to deliver aid to the Armenians.

According to Armenian analysts, Azerbaijan is trying to “extract the maximum political capital from the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.” They warn that even if this condition is accepted to save people from starvation, Baku “will present some new conditions.”

  • “The humanitarian crisis in NK will be presented in the UN Security Council” – Armenian Foreign Ministry
  • Diplomats go to border of Armenia where there is cargo for NK
  • Armenia sends humanitarian cargo to NK, Azerbaijan calls it a provocation

On July 18, a group of NK residents set up barriers on the Aghdam-Askeran road. The protesters came with banners that read “Road to Death” and “Our right to self-determination is not for sale”

“At the negotiating table, I did not discuss the issue of providing assistance to Stepanakert through Agdam. I have neither the mandate nor the need to discuss this issue. At the negotiation platforms, we only discuss issues related to the illegal blocking and opening of the Lachin corridor,” Nikol Pashinyan said at his last press conference.

The other day, a Euronews journalist also asked the Armenian Prime Minister a question about Azerbaijan’s proposal to use the Agdam route.

“I don’t know what you are talking about, because I am talking about the document that I signed, which has the status of an international document. It is very clearly stated there that the Lachin corridor, which is under the control of Russian peacekeepers and is not just a road, but a section five kilometers wide, should be outside the control of Azerbaijan and should provide a connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia,” Pashinyan replied.

Commenting on periodic statements from Baku that the Lachin corridor is not blocked, he said:

“The road from the Moon to Nagorno-Karabakh is also open, there are no checkpoints there, but I cannot talk about institutions unknown to me. What is this road? From Mars, from the moon? I’m talking about what is a documented concept. Now this road is closed, and if someone doubts, they can try to get to Nagorno-Karabakh right now.”

Euronews interview with Pashinyan, who talked about the situation in NK and explained in detail what the “humanitarian crisis” means

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan addressed the Armenian authorities with such an appeal. This statement again said that Yerevan’s claims about the blockade of the Lachin corridor were “groundless”:

“If the Armenian side is really interested in peace and stability in the region, including supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan not only in words but also in deeds, it should refrain from such provocative steps and support the use of the Agdam-Khankendi road and other alternative roads proposed by the Azerbaijani side”.

At the Lachin checkpoint of Azerbaijan, a resident of the unrecognized NKR was detained, who was transported to Armenia by the Red Cross to receive urgent medical care

According to cartographer Ruben Galichyan, theoretically, if Azerbaijan allows, and the Armenian side agrees, for the humanitarian cargo sent by the Armenian government to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh through Agdam, it will be necessary to travel 100 kilometers or more:

“They must pass through the Khakari bridge, then along the internal roads of Azerbaijan, go around the whole of Artsakh, go up to the north and enter Artsakh from the east side.”

He emphasizes that this detour is very long, and, unlike the Lachin corridor, Russian peacekeepers do not have access and the right to exercise control there:

“They want to say that assistance will be provided by Azerbaijan, not Armenia. Of course, in order to provide this assistance, the Azerbaijanis will set a condition for the Armenians of Artsakh to declare their accession to Azerbaijan, joining it.”

Protests taking place in Yerevan in support of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, at the UN office and embassies, as well as an expert’s comment

According to political scientist Areg Kochinyan, even if Azerbaijan allows some cargo, for example humanitarian cargo sitting idle near the Khakari bridge, to be transported to Nagorno-Karabakh, it will try to extract “maximum political capital” from this:

“For example, to receive an official application from Armenia for permission so that the cargo can pass.”

According to Kochinyan, in this way Baku is trying to further strengthen its political positions, seeking written documents on the recognition of its territorial integrity.

“Now to take such steps or not? On the one hand, of course not, because this will be another element of dismantling the subjectivity of NK and integrating it into Azerbaijan. On the other hand, the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is difficult, and the consequences of the famine will be catastrophic,” he stressed.

The political scientist did not offer any solutions.

Political observer Hakob Badalyan does not see the possibility of putting pressure on Azerbaijan and lowering Aliyev’s bar “from the standpoint of maximalism.” He says that the Azerbaijani president plays on the fact that Iran and Russia “are ready to offer him something so that he does not agree with the American proposals on the settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations unconditionally.”

“A certain “unique” balance is being created, from which we, Armenia and Artsakh, fall out,” he said.

According to Badalyan, in order to prolong this state and maintain its high maneuverability between geopolitical poles, Baku will always find some new conditions to put forward to the NK Armenians, even if all the previous ones are unconditionally accepted.

“The main task of the Armenian side is to effectively maintain the balance, formed not by the confrontation of the main players, but by their joint work. Only efficiency in this matter can contribute to the formation of such an environment that will make Baku, at least, objectively think about the issue of lowering the bar of maximalism by several steps and talking with Artsakh,” he believes.

Claims that the option of “unblocking the Lachin corridor by force” now and in the foreseeable future “will be tantamount to an attempt to open a” regional Pandora’s box, which Armenia needs least of all.