Armenia-Azerbaijan border dispute continues despite calls from various international voices

A dispute on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, which started on 12 and 13 May with Armenia accusing Azerbaijan of incursions into its Syunik and Gegharkunik provinces, remains unresolved, with Azerbaijan maintaining that its servicemen are on Azerbaijani territory. Despite various calls over the last days by representatives from the international community, there still appears to be no solution.

The Armenian Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced this morning (19 May) that Azerbaijani servicemen remain on what it regards as Armenian territory. In a series of tweets, the Armenian MOD stated that the “[Azerbaijani] troops and their potential supply lines remain under the complete control of the Armenian forces”. It confirmed that negotiations over a peaceful resolution of the issue are ongoing, but that, “in the event of absence of a solution in reasonable timeframes the [Armenian Armed Forces] reserve the right to solve the issue by another option, including by force”. Today at 14:00 (local time), the Armenian MOD announced that Azerbaijan had failed to attend scheduled talks to resolve the issue.

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) continues to maintain that the Armenian accusation of an Azerbaijani incursion into Armenian sovereign territory is “absolutely baseless”. Speaking on Sunday, Azerbaijani MFA spokesperson, Leyla Abdullayeva, stated:

“Azerbaijan continues its work on the border protection system carried out within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. This process is carried out on the basis of maps available to each of the sides that define the borderline between Armenia and Azerbaijan.” 

Over the last days, various calls have taken place between members of the international community and both sides in an attempt to resolve the situation. On 13 May the Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Stefano Sannino, spoke to the Armenian foreign minister, Ara Ayvazyan, speaking to Azerbaijani foreign minister, Jeyhun Bayramov, on 14 May, about the dispute. On 15 May, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security policy, Josep Borrel, released a statement, saying that "border delimitation and demarcation must be resolved through negotiations," and "[called] on both sides to exercise the utmost restraint and de-escalate the situation". On 16 May, France’s minister of foreign affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, spoke separately to the foreign ministers of both Armenia and Azerbaijan, with Le Drian reaffirming “France’s great concern and its commitment to preserving Armenia’s territorial integrity”. On May 18, the national security advisor to the US President, Jake Sullivan, spoke separately to the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and the prime minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, expressing concern over the issue and emphasising, “that military movements near un-demarcated borders are irresponsible and provocative”. Sullivan highlighted that the US is committed to achieving regional reconciliation through both its bilateral engagement as well as its position as a Minsk Group co-chair.

The Azerbaijani MFA on 16 May said that the issue of border demarcation and delimitation is a bilateral issue, noting that it understands the concerns of third-parties, but that it “[believes] that before making any statements on such a sensitive issue, all root causes and dimensions must be examined thoroughly”. Responding to the suggestion that border demarcation should be done in a bilateral format, the Armenian prime minister stated on 17 May: 

“It is impossible for the simple reason: Armenia and Azerbaijan, in fact, have no relations with each other.”

This morning, speaking from Dushanbe where the Collective Security Treaty Organisation’s (CSTO) Council of Foreign Ministers is meeting, the foreign minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, said that Russia was ready to participate as mediator and consultant in a commission it proposes to establish between Armenia and Azerbaijan on border demarcation between the two countries.


Source: with agencies
Photo: Lake Sev, view from the summit of mount Ishkhanasar; Albero (Wikimedia Commons)