Armenia agrees to unblock transport links with Azerbaijan

PM Nikol Pashinyan participates in trilateral meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev

The prime minister of Armenia and the presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia released a joint statement this week agreeing to unblock all economic and transport links in the region following trilateral talks at the Kremlin.

The four-hour summit in Moscow on January 11 took place at the initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin with the purpose of outlining the next steps in the implementation of the trilateral ceasefire agreement signed on November 9, 2020 ending the second Artsakh War. It was the first meeting between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan since November 9. “Today, we can state with satisfaction that the trilateral agreements are being consistently implemented,” Putin shared before the start of the meeting. “In our opinion, this creates the necessary prerequisites for a long-term and full-scale settlement of the long-standing conflict on a fair basis, in the interests of both the Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples.”

The joint statement is meant to accomplish the ninth point of the ceasefire agreement, which states that all regional economic and transport links will be opened to allow for the unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles and goods between Azerbaijan and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic through Armenia. The statement takes this point a step further by providing Armenia with railway access to Iran through Nakhichevan and Russia through Azerbaijan. Both routes were actively used during the Soviet era, yet they have not been in operation since the first Artsakh War in the early 1990s. 

A tripartite working group consisting of the joint chairmanship of the deputy prime ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, the deputy chairman of the Russian Federation and experts on rail and road communications will be created to lead this process. Its first meeting will take place on January 30, 2021, and the necessary transport infrastructure is scheduled to be built by March 1, 2021. 

During a press conference following the summit, the Russian President reiterated his view that the terms of the ceasefire agreement are generally respected. His Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev assented, remarking, “The Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) conflict is in the past, and we must think about the future [and] how to live together in the neighborhood.” However, Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan asserted that the conflict has not been resolved, since a litany of grave issues remain including the undecided status of Artsakh. 

A resolution on the exchange of prisoners of war and detained civilians was notably absent from the joint statement. The eighth point of the ceasefire agreement mandates that the parties exchange all prisoners and casualties. Yet Azerbaijan has refused to comply with this measure, artificially protracting the process while keeping dozens of captured Armenian soldiers and civilians imprisoned. The return of prisoners, the clarification of the status of the missing and the identification of the bodies of the dead are the highest priorities for the people of Armenia, who have been awaiting the news of their relatives and loved ones since the end of the war amid reports by human rights groups of cruel and inhuman treatment of POWs by the Azerbaijani armed forces. 

“Unfortunately, today we were not able to resolve the issue of prisoners of war, and this is the most sensitive, painful issue, because it is a humanitarian issue, and we agreed that we will continue working in this direction,” Pashinyan said during the press conference. “The eighth point of our joint statement, unfortunately, is not fully implemented, and I hope that we will be able to come to a concrete decision as soon as possible.” 

Nonetheless the PM conveyed his optimism about the positive benefits of the joint statement for the investment potential and economic attractiveness of Armenia. “The implementation of the agreements of this statement can change the economic image and image of our region and economic innovations can also lead to more reliable security guarantees, and we, of course, are ready to work constructively in this direction,” he continued, “but, as I said, unfortunately, it is impossible to resolve all issues during one meeting.” 

Since the end of the war, a Russian peacekeeping contingent has been deployed to monitor compliance with the ceasefire, with 23 observation posts set up along the new line of contact in Artsakh and along the Lachin corridor connecting Artsakh to Armenia. Russia has also delivered 800 tons of construction material to Artsakh to rebuild destroyed infrastructure, provided the population with medical assistance and destroyed 22-thousand mines, while escorting over 48-thousand refugees from Armenia to Artsakh. The January 11 joint statement reflects the further consolidation of Russian influence in the region in the postwar period, as the Russian government will oversee the future establishment of trade networks in the South Caucasus while the roads connecting Armenia, Azerbaijan and Artsakh will be controlled by Russian peacekeepers. 

Azerbaijan confirmed that it holds at least 62 Armenian POWs captive in a letter addressed to the Secretary General of the United Nations written by Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov on December 28. The letter states that 62 Armenian soldiers were captured in mid-December during an “anti-terror operation” in the Hadrut region of Artsakh and suggests that they might face criminal charges. On December 11, the Azerbaijani armed forces attacked the communities of Khtsabert and Hin Tagher in Hadrut, violating the first point of the end-of-war agreement ordering each party to stop at their positions and cease fire. 

The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement condemning the prosecution of Armenian POWs by Azerbaijan. “It should be noted that the Armenian servicemen were captured as a result of the violation of another provision of the trilateral statement,” the statement reads. “Notably the Azerbaijani side announced the prosecution of POWs about a month after the capturing of Armenian servicemen, which demonstrates that Azerbaijan is using Armenian prisoners of war as hostages to advance its political agenda.”

Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan criticized Azerbaijan for politicizing the process of exchanging POWs by linking the humanitarian issue with territorial issues. “It is a matter of fundamental importance that the Azerbaijani authorities are delaying the return of 62 Armenian prisoners of war by distorting the legal process, and by artificially labeling them with the status of ‘suspects’ or ‘an accused,’ and are using detention as a form of punishment,” he wrote on Facebook. “The Azerbaijani authorities are unquestionably abusing legal processes to achieve their goals.”

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is the assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly. She reports on international women's rights, South Caucasus politics, and diasporic identity. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Democracy in Exile, and Girls on Key Press. She holds master's degrees in journalism and Near Eastern studies from New York University.


  1. With a Turkophil friend like Putin and a traitor PM like Pashinoglu, I wonder if Armenian people need an enemy?

    • Putin is friends with EVERYBODY, who buys the weapons, manufactured in Russia!

      PECUNIA NON-NOCET.. is Putin’s devise.
      He sold weapons to Azerbaijan not because he just wants to keep them in the orbit of Russia,but because Azerbaijan has oil money to buy expensive Russian weapons.

  2. Prime Minister Pashinyan’s behavior brings to mind how some of Lincoln’s commanders were psychologically broken and rendered useless, after Robert E Lee defeated them in the American Civil War (1861-1865). They were good commanders, with good intentions, but found themselves psychologically paralyzed by the circumstances; and so, President Lincoln sometimes found it better to simply remove them from command, by a similar measure, it’s better to remove PM Pashinyan, because he has lost the confidence and trust of the People.

  3. Sooooooo…my dearest Armenian Orthodox brothers( I am also an Orthodox devotee)…

    Putin got what he wanted…Nagorno Karabakh( Arztekh).
    Two are fighting…the THIRD wins( that is what we say in Greece).

    Now Russian coal companies could transport the coal from DONBAS through Armenian territory directly by RAIL to Turkey.

    Until now( that is what I read in the German Press) Russia was transporting the coal by rail to Abkhazia( which Putin also stole from Georgia) and then by ships to the next Turkish port.

    Nevertheless, it is applaudable, that Putin helps by the recovering of the bodies and releasing of the captured Armenian soldiers.

    Nagorno_Karabakh you, regrettably, will not get anymore as long as Russian “mirotvorzui”(peacekeepers) are there.

    • Once again a “Dorothea Schmidt-Wagner” comment and once again a jibe at the Russians and Putin, color me surprised. At what point do you moderate obvious shill comments? For about the tenth time, Doro, even assuming you’re totally right about Putin and everything (as if this was about coal which could be easily transported from the Donbas straighht to Turkey by ship, in case you missed that) – what have other countries done in the meantime? Even the lightest of sanctions by Germany or the EU against turboaggressive Turkey would have hurt their economy badly. And yet – nothing. So maybe concern yourself with your country first when it comes to faking sympathy. You know, the country that effectively built Turkey whether through millions of immigrants and their remittances, FDI, European association efforts, arms sales, the laughable “solution” to the migrant crisis that you “refugees welcome” people conjured or just plain foreign aid. And that’s just the last 50 years, let’s not look beyond that as we all know what lies there.

      If we want to identify who wants to end us and who supports them, immediately after Azerbaijan and Turkey comes Germany. So spare us the act, please.

  4. Armenia’s parliament must have the last say on this.

    Does Armenia’s “opposition” have any better ideas than Pashinyan’s?

    If so, let’s hear exactly what they are.

    Would the “opposition” stand up to Azerbaijan and Russia? How do we know?

    • Firstly, the Armenian Government ( exactly as the Georgians,Gruzinzui) did) ought to get RID of the Russian military base.

      Pashinyan is much too soft! During the 44 days of war, Pashinyan and the President of Armenia BEGGED Putin to help his ORTHODOX brothers.

      Did Putin help the Armenian Forces? NO!

      He referred to the Contract for Mutual defense, signed between Russia and all other CNG( Soyuz Nezavisimuix Gosudarstv), saying Russia can not fulfill her obligations according to this contract as Azerbaijan did NOT attack Armenia proper.
      This is not true as even a Russian helicopter was shot over Armenian territory.

      Get RID of this Pashinyan, Armenians!

      Hopefully, the opposition will have the courage as the Georgians and the Ukrainians to throw all Russian soldiers out of Armenia.

      Last night I watched a video, made by Radio Freedom in YEREVAN, need ” The Life of a Migrant!”

      The Armenian migrants are very poorly paid in the Russian Federation and very poorly treated.

      Ukrainian citizens can travel already to the European Union WITHOUT visas and many are here, in Germany. If a company needs them, exactly as in the USA they can get a Green Card…H B2 in the USA(work$live visa for two years).

      ARMENIA belongs to EUROPE!

      Ukraine and Georgia already signed an Association Agreement with the EU and American troops are in Georgia&Ukraine to train their militaries,so that Putin does not steal more of the their territories.

    • As Dave says, would the opposition stand up to Azeris and Russia ?

      I would add: with what resources ??
      No resources.

  5. Hey, ZAVEN! I am NOT a German, but a GREEK lady, living in Germany!

    As I wrote in my previous comment, I am ALSO devoted to the Orthodox religion.

    So.. what you do not know is, that DONBAS is heavily sanctioned by the EU&USA.

    Therefore Russian mining companies buy the coal from the mines in Donbas, transport it to Sukumi, Abkhazia, and then ship it to Turkey as coal from the Russian Federation.

    Yes, YOU are right…there are many Turkish “Gastarbeiter” in Germany, but there are also 3,7 million RUSSIAN immigrants, who already turned Germany into a Russian colony.

    NO! When the coal is transported by ship from Sukumi, Abkhazia to Turkey DIRECTLY, there is ALWAYS a danger, that the USA Navy will find out, the cargo is SANCTIONED( illegal) and SEIZE the ship.

    When Russian goods( many of them like weapons, sold to war zones, are ALSO sanctioned by the EU&USA because of the Annexation of Crimea&Donbas) are transported through Armenia, the EU; USA can not size the cargo of the trains!

    HEY, I actually wrote Mid-October a letter to Putin on, begging him to help Armenia in the war with Azerbaijan! Doyou think I, as a Greek woman LOVE sooo much the Turks?!

    I told Putin, he is right by saying according to the Contract of Mutual Defense with Armenia,he is obliged to help Armenia ONLY, if there is an attack on Armenia PROPER.

    Nevertheless, I wrote to Putin, you could deploy your WAGNER Division( Battalion ) of mercenaries to Armenia.

    WAGNER Mercenaries are a Russian PRIVATE Army.

    Soooooo…you think, that GERMANY wants to END Armenia? Do you know how many Armenians live in Germany? Thousands of them!

    Germany has a leading position in the European Union and wants to EXPAND the Union.

    NOT that I hate the Russians and Putin( they are also my Orthodox brothers), but WHAT can Russia offer to Armenia?

    What INVESTMENT did Russia bring to Armenia? HOW many factories; IT companies in Russia opened in Armenia? How many freeways; railways; airports Russia built in Armenia during the last 26 years since Armenia became independent?

    The Russian Federation is a huge country, with very big territory and it has to build soooooo many freeways and roads on its OWN territory.

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