YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are putting the finishing touches on a comprehensive agreement to restore transport links between the two South Caucasus states, according to a senior Russian diplomat.
The leaders of the three countries reported decisive progress towards opening the Armenian-Azerbaijani border to passenger and cargo traffic after talks held in the Russian city of Sochi on November 26. Russian President Vladimir Putin said a Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani task force will formalize their understandings in the coming days.
However, the trilateral task force announced no agreements after meeting in Moscow on December 1.
On December 6, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev renewed his threats to forcibly open a land “corridor” connecting Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave via Armenia. He said afterwards that people and cargo passing through that “Zangezur corridor” must be exempt from Armenian border controls. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian rejected the demand.
Aliyev and Pashinian met in Brussels on December 14 and December 15. They reportedly reached an agreement on rail links between their countries but failed to iron out their differences on the Nakhichevan road link sought by Baku.
Pashinian said later in December that he hopes for a “real compromise solution to this issue.” But he did not comment on parameters of that compromise.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko was asked about the possibility of such a deal in a weekend interview with the TASS news agency. He cited in that regard “important” preparations for the cross-border transport connections made by the Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani task force.
“A single ‘package’ is being ‘polished’ [for that purpose] at the moment,” he said. “This approach will ensure the sustainability of decisions made.”
Rudenko added that Moscow is aiming for a quick “completion of the elaboration of the parameters of joint infrastructure initiatives.” He did not give further details.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the matter with his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov in a December 30 phone call. The Russian Foreign Ministry said they “agreed to work towards the speedy and full implementation of the decisions” made by Putin, Aliyev and Pashinian.