April 19, 2024

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We must return four regions to Azerbaijan otherwise we will be at war

We must return four regions to Azerbaijan otherwise we will be at war

Armenia could face war with Azerbaijan if it does not reach an understanding with Baku and return the four Azerbaijani villages it has controlled since the early 1990s, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a video released Tuesday.

Pashinyan was speaking during a meeting on Monday with residents of the border areas in the Tavush region of northern Armenia, near a series of abandoned Azerbaijani villages that Yerevan has controlled since the early 1990s.

The four villages, which have been uninhabited for more than 30 years, are of strategic value to Armenia because they are located on the main road between Yerevan and the border with Georgia.

Azerbaijan said that the return of its territory, which also includes several small enclaves completely surrounded by Armenian territory, is a necessary condition for reaching a peace agreement that ends three decades of conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which Baku forces regained control of last September. .

Russia's state-run TASS news agency reported that Pashinyan told residents that failure to reach a settlement over the disputed villages could lead to war with Azerbaijan “by the end of the week.” He added: “I know how such a war would end.”

Yerevan suffered a major defeat last September when Baku's forces regained control of Nagorno-Karabakh in a lightning attack, causing all of the estimated 100,000 Armenians in the region to flee to Armenia.

Although Karabakh is internationally recognized as an Azerbaijani territory, ethnic Armenians in the region have enjoyed de facto independence from Baku since the war in the early 1990s.

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peace treaty

Baku and Yerevan have said they now want to sign a formal peace treaty, but talks have faltered over issues such as the demarcation of their 1,000-kilometre-long shared border, which remains closed and heavily militarized.

Pashinyan said in recent weeks that he was ready to return Azerbaijani lands controlled by Armenia and suggested changing the road network in Armenia to avoid Azerbaijani territory.

Muslim-majority Azerbaijan also continues to control regions internationally recognized as part of Christian Armenia.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Sunday that his country is “closer than ever” to a peace agreement with Armenia, in statements he made after talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Baku.

Stoltenberg held talks on Tuesday with Pashinyan in Armenia, an ally of Russia, although its relations with Moscow have been strained in recent months due to Russia's failure, which Yerevan says, to protect it from Azerbaijan.

As a result, Armenia has shifted its foreign policy toward the West, much to the dismay of Moscow, with senior officials indicating that it may one day apply to join the European Union.

In a statement posted on Tuesday on the Telegram app, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Yerevan's deep ties with the West were the reason why Armenia had to make concessions to Azerbaijan.