Further gunfire reported at Yeraskh metallurgical plant, leaders' talks scheduled for next week

Further gunfire was reported at the construction site of the Yeraskh metallurgical plant in Armenia on Tuesday (20 June), some six days after two Indian nationals working at the site were wounded during gunfire on Wednesday (14 June).

In a statement, the Armenian Ministry of Defence (MoD) accused Azerbaijan of opening fire at the Yeraskh metallurgical plant at 4.30pm on 20 June. This followed a statement made the day before (Monday 19 June), in which the Armenian MoD accused Azerbaijan of firing at the plant at 1.25pm.

On both occasions, on 19 and 20 June, the Azerbaijani MoD also issued statements accusing Armenian forces stationed near Yeraskh of opening fire on Azerbaijani positions in Heydarabad, just over the border in Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan province. This led to Azerbaijani forces taking "retaliatory measures", according to the Azerbaijani MoD's press releases.

You can read more about the events leading up to the first reported gunfire at the Yeraskh metallurgical plant on 14 June in this op-ed on commonspace.eu, written by commonspace.eu Deputy Editor Patrick Norén.

GTB Steel director raises Armenian and US flags at the Yeraskh metallurgical plant construction site

Also on Tuesday, the director of the Armenian-US company building the metallurgical plant in Yeraskh, which is located less than a kilometre from Armenia's border with Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan province, announced the raising of the Armenian and US flags at the construction site.

In an interview, Tiran Hakobyan said: "We do not assume that raising the flags will give us military protection and so on; it is just the record of the decision of our board of directors. By raising the flags, we record our decision that we will not go anywhere from here, and will continue the construction of the plant."

"The only subject for us to be here, to carry out activities, to build and not build something, to agree and disagree is the Republic of Armenia. We have that permission, the desire, from the Republic of Armenia, and all the documents stipulated by the law to build the plant here."

Azerbaijan had previously raised objections over the construction of the plant, citing environmental concerns. Baku also accused Yerevan of not having previously consulted them prior to approving the construction of the plant.

Armenia-Azerbaijan talks scheduled for next week - Samad Seyidov 

Meanwhile, on Monday (19 June), Samad Seyidov, the head of the Azerbaijani delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said that further talks between the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev are scheduled to take place next week.

"Talks between Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan are ongoing. The next round of talks will take place next week," he said, although Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Armenian Service reports that the location and format of the talks was not announced.

source: commonspace.eu with agencies
photo: RFE/RL