04/12/2023, 00.00
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The dispute between Yerevan and Baku over the Lačin corridor still unresolved

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Closed by Baku, it serves to connect Yerevan with Nagorno Karabakh, an Armenian enclave in Azerbaijani territory. Tension over the status of the village of Tegh. The local population tried by the dispute. Every negotiation has to reckon with the indomitable character of the Armenian population in the area.


Moscow (AsiaNews) - The chairman of Armenia's Parliamentary Defence Commission, Andranik Kočaryan (see photo), met with journalists to explain the situation in the disputed Lačin corridor, which blocks Yerevan's communications with Nagorno Karabakh, an Armenian enclave in Azerbaijani territory. The Armenian deputy focused on the situation in the village of Tegh, a key junction of the affected area in the eastern part of the Siunyk region, 88 kilometres from the border town of Kapan, where the command of the Russian army's 'peacekeeping' forces has been based since November 2020.

The armies of Azerbaijan are also stationed there, and it is unclear to what extent they are conniving or conflicting with the Russians, as well as with the Armenians. According to Kočaryan, the Azeris have done nothing to liberate the area, despite repeated statements to this effect. At the same time, the bodies commissioned by Baku and Yerevan are at work on border correction, which seems to be leading to some improvement, at least on paper, right around the village of Tegh, up to the other centre of Kornidzor.

As the MP explained, 'when we talk about improvements, we mean that at least this crucial stretch has begun to be discussed, even if we still do not see real transfers, but perhaps we are beginning to understand what is ours and what is theirs'. The hope is that the Azeris will 'at least begin to back off a little'.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pašinyan himself said during a government meeting that 'border relocation points have been set at 7 and 12 kilometres, and work is being done on another 5 kilometres around Tegh'. According to the Armenians' assessments, the opponents have set up facilities with engineering works 100-300 metres from the border points, violating security distances and general agreements. As the premier says, 'we are talking about it with the Azeris, to get them to move away from Tegh, but if they do not understand, the day will come when we will have to find a way to make them understand'.

As Kočaryan points out, when Baku really begins to liberate the area, it will be possible to talk about the 'reciprocal removal' of the military from the hottest areas. Therefore, an investigation on a legal basis will be necessary to fully understand the blame for the incidents that led to several victims and the sum of the problems that blocked the entire corridor, 'at all levels, from the lowest to the highest, focusing on the actions of the various authorities on the ground'.

In the village of Tegh itself, there is an administrative head of the community, and a mixture of inhabitants and military forces. The maintenance and repair of roads, for example, concerns stretches of tens of metres, often decisive for the passage of vehicles. So far, no action has been taken against any officials on the Armenian side, and the Tegh Municipal Council awaits the arrival of a commission of enquiry, together with government representatives, to 'clarify the many issues that remain obscure', Kočaryan reiterates.

One of the members of the Tegh Council, representing the opposition to the village's 'elders', Masis Zejnalyan, travelled to the capital of Siunyk, asking the regional administrators to come in their turn to verify the situation, 'no matter which side they are on, the professors from the House of Culture can come,' as long as someone really tries to understand how the locals live, 'now abandoned like butterflies fluttering in a prison'. The Azeris have allegedly destroyed crops to set up their facilities, and the inhabitants feel wedged between soldiers and policemen of all factions.

The citizens of Tegh, says Zejnalyan, have no intention of 'giving up their bread and surrendering without a fight, what future would we have?' As always in these territories, any negotiations must always come to terms with the indomitable character of the population.

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