Situation around Karabakh is calm amid reports of operational contacts between representatives of the sides on the ground

After a tense week in the first days of August the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh has been calm over the last days. Thehead of the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), Aratik Harutyunyan,  has ordered the demobilisation of reservists that were called up in a partial mobilisation last week.

In the meantime there have also been reports of operational contacts on the ground between senior Azerbaijani military officials and leaders of NKR. 

On Tuesday (9 August), the Armenian newspaper Aravot reported that Armenians in the village of Berdzor had claimed that the self-styled NKR Security Council Secretary, Vitaly Balasanyan, had visited the village together with Azerbaijani military officers, and officers from the Russian military contingent in Karabakh

An article on the website of "Aravot" quoted Berdzor resident Satik Asatryan as saying that Balasanyan visited Berdzor with Azerbaijani officials and commanders of the Russian peacekeeping force. The information was also confirmed by Berdzor mayor Narek Aleksanyan.

The story created something of a sensation. For the last months there have been unconfirmed reports that the Azerbaijani military had established some operational contacts with the authorities of the self-declared NKR. It seems that these contacts can now be confirmed

On Wednesday, answering a written question from the semi official Armenpress news agency regarding what was the purpose of the visit and what issues were discussed, Balasanyan's office said:

"The visit of the Secretary of the Security Council to the city of Berdzor, was in the framework of the tripartite statement of November 9, 2020, and specifically in order to get acquainted with the progress of the construction of the new route connecting Artsakh to Armenia, and took place together with the Russian peacekeeping troops stationed in the Republic of Artsakh, as well as with the representatives of the Azerbaijani side":

Balsanyan's office denied that there were similar visits to Aghavno and Nerkin Sus settlements, and did not want to comment further.

According to various media reports the Armenian population of the village of Berdzor is preparing to leave the village ahead of it being transferred back to Azerbaijan. In the last decade Armenian refugees from Syria were settled in Berdzor, which is on the strategic Lachin corridor which connects Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. According to the 10 (9) November trilateral declaration a new land route has been constructed to replace the current one. This will enable the Azerbaijani side to take back the town of Lachin which has been under Armenian control since 1994.

source: with Armenpress (Yerevan) and Aravot (Yerevan)