Goris Stepanakert Highway to be Inaugurated

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–An official ceremony Wednesday will mark the opening of yet another section of the reconstructed road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia via Lachin.

The highway between Stepanakert and Goris runs across the Lachin corridor liberated by Karabakh Armenian forces in May 1992 during the war with Azerbaijan. The area is Karabakh’s shortest land connection with Armenia.

The newly built stretch of road brings to a close construction work in the entire Lachin section of the highway that in effect was non-existent before 1992.

A thorough reconstruction of the Goris-Stepanakert road began shortly after a cease-fire agreement stopped hostilities in May 1994.

The project has been financed by the All-Armenian Hayastan Fund that accepts donations from Diaspora communities throughout the world. The construction work will now focus on the remaining Shoushi-Stepanakert section.

The Lachin issue is one of the main sticking points in the stalled Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. Karabakh Armenia’s–backed by Yerevan–reject any settlement that would limit their full control of the corridor. While demanding withdrawal from Lachin of Armenian forces–Azerbaijan–for its part–has said that it might consider placing the district under international supervision to guarantee the unimpeded passage of people and non-military cargo.

The ceremony in Lachin will be attended by Armenian President Robert Kocharian who will then proceed to Stepanakert to take part in celebrations of the seventh anniversary of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

An announcement to the press to that effect was made Tuesday by presidential adviser Gassia Apkarian who has also been appointed Kocharian’s press secretary.

In Stepanakeret–Kocharian will join another high-ranking delegation from Armenia–led by Prime Minister Armen Darbinian. That delegation–comprising several government ministers–left for Karabakh on Monday.

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