Challenging Path Of Lachin Corridor!
A number of so-called environmental activists, who support Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, stopped transit of Armenians in Shusha city towards the center of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) region.
Azerbaijan’s armed forces, from March 25, have started advancing in some parts of northern corridor of Lachin and seized control of heights overlooking side roads from Lisagor (Turssu) village to Stepanakert (Khankendi) city, the center of Nagorno-Karabakh region. Therefore, residents of six villages of Lisagor (Turssu), Yeghtsahogh (Saribaba), Mets Shen (Buyuk Galadarasi), Hen Shen (Kichik Galadarasi), Kanach Tala (Goytala) and Tasy Verst that are Armenian settlements have been besieged, and the side roads, which are their last chance to maintain their connection with the center of the Nagorno-Karabakh have been blocked.
Challenge of living in Line of Contact
Radio Liberty of Armenia has prepared a report on regions that are near the Line of Contact and witnessing a hard situation following the closure of transportation ways. Lisagor in this region is the only residential area, where the Armenians have been resided in following the end of First Nagorno-Karabakh War from February 1988 to May 1994.
Qajik Nasibyan, head of Lisagor council, told a reporter of the radio that the village with 73 Armenian people has been situated in vicinity of the Line of Contact after the end of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War (September 27, 2020 – November 10, 2020). Their presence zone on the road is 8 to 10 kilometers near Shusha. Now, the village comes under the fire of the observation post of the Azerbaijan Republic’s army. The Azerbaijan armed forces plan to control the only remained road for their connection to Stepanakert; so, they took it.
Artak Hakobyan, head of Saribaba council, explained the hardships of living under this condition, saying that aside from healthcare issues, other problems have happened. Students cannot commute to Stepanakert. The Azerbaijan army personnel have been deployed 500 meters away from the Saribaba village. The residents of the village can farm only near their houses. In August 2022, Azerbaijan Republic retook Lachin District, and the Azeri Army controlled heights around the village. Azerbaijanis have stolen 17 cows so far; so, if we neglect for only five minutes, our cattle would be stolen.
Azerbaijan does not intend to retreat
Siran Ayraptian, representative of the Armenian separatists of Artsakh, in an interview with Radio Liberty pointed to the inconclusive negotiations by Russian peacekeepers to urge Azerbaijan Republic to retreat from the heights overlooking Lisagor village, saying that Azerbaijan resorted to blocking the only transportation road in a bid to force the Armenian community there to stop their demand for independence. On one hand, the Azeri authorities speak of peace, and on the other hand, they resort to enforcing pressure in order to force us to do something else, but the performance would not bring positive result.
Pro-Aliyev environmental activists present in Shusha sit-in accuse Armenian people of illegal excavation of mines in Karabakh and pollution in that mountainous region; therefore, they resort to the excuse to block the road even for routine traffic. The authorities in Azerbaijan Republic say that the side roads are being applied for delivery of arms and military equipment. Thus, all roads should be closed for residents of central parts of the mountainous Karabakh region!
From checkpoint to border police station
Azerbaijan Republic is saying that they should build a border police station in Lachin Corridor. The Azeri officials first announced that an checkpoint should be erected in Shusha city, but now they say the post should be constructed in the borderline between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
It is worth mentioning that the Azerbaijan Army trespassed on Armenian soil, when they attempted to cut the old route of Tegh to Lachin Corridor, and they occupied hundreds of hectares of Armenian territories in east and northeast of Tegh. (Map below)
Checkpoint is contrary to Moscow statement
Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova underlined the need for implementing provisions of the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement, which is a tripartite statement signed by Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia on November 9, 2020, saying that the establishment of a checkpoint is not among the provisions of the statement, but Moscow will observe the option.
Challenges of new path of Lachin Corridor
The Lachin Corridor links Armenians living in the Nagorno-Karabakh region to Armenia; so, the residents of the region can only meet their needs through this path.
The developments of the Lachin Corridor are also of importance. According to the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement, the old route from Tegh village should be closed from April 1, 2023 and a new path towards the south should be used, which has a boundary of five kilometers. Azerbaijan constructed parts of the road, which is under its control prior to the end of last year (2022), and it has blocked the old route totally.
The substitute route, which passes across Kornidzor village in southern Tegh village, has not been completed yet by Armenia. 200 meters of the road near Kornidzor village is under construction; so, transport through the piece of road is hard. Armenia’s hesitance to construct the route seems to be a weird gesture!