Yerevan will not participate in negotiations on new regulations for the Lachin Corridor following Azerbaijan's long-term blockade of the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.
On April 28, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said during a joint news conference with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna that "Armenia has never been and will not be engaged in talks on new regulations in the Lachin corridor".
Mirzoyan is set to hold direct talks this week in Washington with his Azerbaijani counterpart on normalising the two neighbours' relations.
Mirzoyan emphasised that the corridor's status was established in the Moscow-brokered ceasefire agreement that ended the six-week Armenian-Azerbaijani war over Nagorno-Karabakh in November 2020. The agreement placed Russian peacekeepers in charge of ensuring security for Nagorno-Karabakh and free movement for its people along a five-kilometre-wide strip of land known as the Lachin Corridor, which connects the mostly Armenian-populated region with Armenia.
Azerbaijan changed the facts on the ground on April 23 by installing a checkpoint at the entrance to the corridor, citing Armenia's alleged continued military supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh. This tightened the existing blockade of the region, which Azerbaijani so-called protesters effectively imposed in December.
On April 28, following Azerbaijan's establishment of the checkpoint, the self-proclaimed eco-activists stopped their own protests that had blocked the road. "Given the partial fulfillment of our demands, as well as the calls of the state representatives, we decided to temporarily stop the protest action," one of the protestors said.
The checkpoint was described as illegal by authorities in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, and Russia denounced Azerbaijan's unilateral actions in the Lachin Corridor. Western powers, including the United States and France, expressed concerns that Azerbaijan's move could escalate tensions and undermine efforts by Yerevan and Baku to reach peace in the region.
The French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs emphasised France's full support for talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan in cooperation with the European Union, the United States, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the UN.
The International Court of Justice recently ordered Azerbaijan to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles, and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions. However, Azerbaijan denies blockading the Armenian-populated region. It promises to ensure the necessary conditions for a transparent and orderly passage of Armenian residents living in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in both directions, in cooperation with Russian peacekeepers.
Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh insist that only the Russian presence in the corridor is acceptable under the terms of the Moscow-brokered ceasefire agreement.
Armenian officials stressed the importance of unblocking the Lachin Corridor, and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has called for a broader international presence in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Lachin Corridor, urging an urgent international fact-finding mission to the area.
Despite calling for foreign intervention, Pashinyan this year on several occasions mentioned that Karabakh should negotiate with Azerbaijan. However, Nagorno-Karabakh authorities have not accepted Baku's invitation to discuss political matters.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace envisages a grim future and mass migrations for Karabakh Armenians as Armenia appears prepared to relinquish Karabakh. "Yerevan agrees that the Karabakh Armenians have to make their own deals: this is a concession to Baku that also allows Yerevan to avoid responsibility," reads the Carnegie article.